Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

June 1, 2014

AmeriGas customer speaks out on pricing

FIFE LAKE — Corey Caverson took action when the bill to refill her propane tank in December topped $700.

“It about floored me,” said Caverson, a Fife Lake resident and the Fife Lake Village Clerk. “Fortunately, I had the ability to pay it. What about all those people that don’t?”

Caverson is one of many state residents who reached out to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and alleged AmeriGas gouged winter propane prices. Schuette filed a subpoena against the company on May 9. The legal document includes stories from many Michigan AmeriGas customers, including Caverson and a Traverse City couple who complained they were quoted one price, then billed another.

The Attorney General’s office is collecting AmeriGas phone recordings, documents and depositions of employees. The company has until June 12 to submit the materials.

Caverson became a customer of Holton’s LP Gas in Fife Lake in June 2004. She said she used the business’ monthly payment plan and paid a monthly fee for propane whether or not her tank was filled. Those payments built up a credit, then the cost of propane refills drew from that credit.

Her December tank fill was an expensive surprise and the credit Caverson had built didn’t cover it.

“I looked at that and said ‘How can that possibly be?’” she said. “When I calculated it out it was $3.57 a gallon. I called them and got nowhere.”

Caverson said Holton’s dropped her from the monthly payment plan without telling her, then charged a late payment fee.

“I continued to pay my monthly payment like I always did,” she said. “The next thing I get an invoice for a $36 late fee.”

AmeriGas Director of Corporate Communications Kate Stickel said she couldn’t discuss Caverson’s case, but said the company sends letters to customers every summer asking them to sign up for the next year. Customers who don’t return the letters are dropped from that program.

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