May 1, 2017
3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Propane Supplier
Competition in business is the best way to keep businesses honest. Options are a good thing for anyone who uses propane. Since honesty is the best policy (even in business), we want to help you choose the best propane supplier for you. Here are three questions you can ask when looking for a propane provider.
Ask how prices are set. Are they based on local supply or national supply? And if they are offering an introductory price, what is the regular price for the second, third, fourth etc. deliveries? Most people familiar with propane know that the price is a moving target. It varies, sometimes daily, depending on supply and demand, which is why prices set on local supply is better. Each company will have a slightly different price per gallon, because all prices are based on a margin. The amount of margin is what they charge on top of the market price, allowing them to make a profit.
A word of caution: One thing most people are unaware of is that many companies will give you an introductory low price, then their margin will increase for every delivery of propane after that, with no ceiling on the price. The customer price can keep going up, regardless of weather the market price has gone down. At this rate, over time, the customer price can be quadruple the market price, without the customer’s knowledge. Even if you know the intro price, and the second, third and fourth fill prices, you will still want to check further down the road, just to keep everyone honest.
Running out of fuel.
What happens if I run out of fuel on a weekend or holiday? The answer will depend on if you are on automatic delivery or if you are a will call customer. Most of the time, if you are leasing a tank from a company, they have you on automatic delivery, which means you won’t need to worry about keeping track of your own tank percentage. It will be the company’s job to monitor your propane usage and fill you up when they predict you are low. If you own your own tank, and want to be in charge of monitoring your propane usage, you are a “will call” customer, and responsible for letting the company know when you need a fill. In this situation, if you run yourself out of propane on a weekend or holiday, you will either have to wait a few days, or you will spend a bit more to have an emergency delivery. Either way (will call or automatic fill), you will want to know if the company has a 24/7 delivery service, and what the terms include given your status of automatic fill or will call.
Do you have payment plans? Buying 100 gallons or more of propane can be a hit to your pocketbook. Since propane is delivered in bulk, often payment is due at the time of delivery. Some companies offer interest free payment plans, while others do not. You will want to find that out before your delivery so you don’t go into massive “sticker shock”.
“The substitute for knowledge is money” – Gordon Bethune, CEO US Airlines. This is true. The more you know, the more money you will save. There are many questions you can ask. This is just a start. Stay tuned for more tidbits on how to be energy efficient.