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For Immediate Release
October 29, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

MILLERSVILLE PROPANE GAS SUPPLIER SETTLES WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement with a Millersville, Maryland propane gas supplier over the company’s imposition of an “environmental fee." The company, United Propane, Inc., agreed to stop charging its existing customers the environmental fee and to return the environmental fees it had previously charged.

United Propane, at 205 Najoles Road, Millersville, provides liquid propane gas to customers throughout Maryland, with branch offices in Hagerstown, Kent Island, La Plata, St. Leonard, Leonardtown, Mt. Airy, Rosedale, Salisbury and St. Michaels. The Consumer Protection Division alleged that United Propane violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act by having consumers enter into multi-year service agreements and then charging consumers an additional "environmental fee,” which had not been disclosed in the contracts, each time gas was provided.

Although United Propane denied it violated the law, it agreed to stop charging customers environmental fees unless the fee was first disclosed in its contracts, and to return the environmental fees of approximately $7,500, either as a service credit or as a restitution payment that will be distributed by the Division. Under the settlement, the company also agreed to pay the Consumer Protection Division $5,000 for its costs.

"Consumers cannot be asked to pay fees unless they are adequately disclosed in their service
agreements," said Attorney General Curran. The Attorney General urged consumers to make sure they know all of the fees before entering into a contract and then to check all bills to make sure that they are only being charged fees to which they agreed.

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