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For Immediate Release
October 23, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

BOONSBORO PROPANE GAS SUPPLIER REACHES
SETTLEMENT WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE

Attorney 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.

Thompson's 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.

Though 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.

"Consumers can't be required to pay charges that aren't disclosed to them," said Attorney General Curran.

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