October 23, 2002
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
PROPANE GAS SUPPLIER REACHES
SETTLEMENT WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer
Protection Division has reached a settlement with a Boonsboro, Maryland
propane gas supplier over the imposition of "hazardous material
fees." The company, Thompson's Gas & Electric and Electric
Service, Inc., 6708 Old National Pike, agreed to return tens of
thousands of dollars in hazardous materials fees it charged consumers
that were not properly disclosed in its service agreements.
Gas provides propane gas to approximately 5,000 residential consumers
in Western Maryland.
The Consumer Protection Division alleged that Thompson's Gas violated
the Maryland Consumer Protection Act by having consumers enter into
three-year service agreements and then charging an additional $2.97
monthly "hazardous materials fee" that had not been disclosed
in the contract. The Division further alleged that Thompson's Gas
misrepresented the purpose of its hazardous materials fee when it
informed consumers that it was imposing the fee to recover its costs
due to new government regulations.
Thompson's Gas denied it violated the law, it agreed to stop charging
consumers a hazardous materials fee unless consumers signed service
agreements agreeing to such fees. The company also agreed not to
charge hazardous materials fees that exceed its actual costs for
handling hazardous materials and not to charge consumers any fees
unless they are first disclosed in consumers' contracts. Under the
settlement, the company also agreed to pay the Consumer Protection
Division $25,000 for its costs.
can't be required to pay charges that aren't disclosed to them,"
said Attorney General Curran.