Is it possible that your fuel oil or propane suppliers is ripping you off?
Unfortunately, history has shown, yes, they sure can!
But how is that possible when they leave me an ‘official looking’ metered delivery ticket showing me the gallons they delivered into my tank?
Well, in reality, you’re buying a product you really never visually see, it’s a liquid that goes into your fuel tank. With fuel oil, you may have a gauge that shows 1/4, 1/2, etc…if you have an above ground tank and if your gauge actually works acurately.
With a buried fuel oil tank, chances are you have no way of telling what’s in that tank unless you “stick it” with measuring stick and use a chart like this one CLICK HERE and calculate what was delivered if you actually stuck it before and after that drop. Propane there’s a gauge on the tank, but they are for estimating and should never be trusted for an exact of what’s in the tank.
Unfortunately, these unscrupulous fuel delivery guys know the tricks and know the odds of you actually ever verifying if you received the 200 gals you paid for or did they only deliver 150? Who really checks? And these guys know that. These are often the ‘fuel dealers’ that sell on the “lowest discount price” and the only way to stay in business is to cut corners and unfortunately, some will blatently steal from unsuspecting consumers.
The most common trick – the old fashioned “mechanical meter register”. This was the common working horse of the oil & gas industry for decades but most reputable dealers have changed over to the more reliable & accurate “electronic registers. The older style mechanical registers can either be easily removed from their base inside the back of the truck before or after the delivery is made and set to what ever gallon reading they want — or even easier — they simply have a spare / loose register head in their office or inside the cab of the truck which can be set to whatever gallon reading they want and stamp your delivery ticket. Unbelievable but “weights & measures” officials rarely catch these bad actors since they need to be caught in the act which is close to impossible in the field. In the past, I have had several people tell me of a local fuel dealer they knew that did exactly this — had a “spare” meter register in the cab of his truck and would stamp meter tickets for whatever he wanted during the day. The bigger the customer, the harder it’s going to be for them to spot they are missing 200 out of the 1000 gals they ordered in that buried tank.
Other tricks are where these crooked fuel dealers have a valve on the back of the truck that diverts all or a portion they allow of your fuel that is supposed to go through the hose – directly back into their tanker. Or air can be sent through some old meters to make it turn on the meter but in fact, it’s just air.
How can you protect yourself?
Look for long standing, REPUTABLE fuel dealers to service your home – not the cheapest guy in the local penny-saver that simply has a truck & a cell phone. It might cost you a few pennies more per gallon – but you’ll get ALL your oil and will be assured it’s quality and not recycled sludge or cooking oil which they can blend in for a lower cost.
- Only buy from dealers that use ELECTRONIC METER REGISTERS.
- Ask to see ALL the meter seals that the government officials placed on the meter when they checked the meter. This shouldn’t insult the delivery driver if he’s on the up & up.
- Old fashion “mechanical” meter ticket – Electronic meter ticket on CES delivery trucks
- If in doubt that you got a delivery — a company that uses electronic meter registers & on-board computers, they should be able to reproduce GPS coordinates to show exactly where that truck was sitting during your delivery. CES is happy to produce you exact coordinates for every delivery.
- When in doubt – ask to meet the delivery driver and watch what they do. We know it’s cold, but might be worth your time to see that meter start at zero, make sure that you are getting all you’re paying for if you’re worried about the type of people you’re dealing with.
CES propane delivery truck with a sealed electronic register below:
Scams in different direction by fly-by-nights: Entrusting them with YOUR money. THINK FIRST!
- PRE-BUY & BUDGET PAYMENT PROGRAMS: BEWARE. We can’t stress this enough that you find a long standing, reputable fuel dealer to entrust your money with if you’re considering any pre-payment programs. Consumers don’t realize – there are very few laws protecting their money when they hand it over to the fuel dealer, it’s not like an FDIC insured bank account. Very often these fuel dealers use your pre-payments to cover their daily operating expenses before winter hits and don’t actually cover your gallons you expect to get during the winter. How many fuel companies can YOU think of that has vanished in recent years? Or how about simply google “heating oil scam”. Sad but true unfortunately. We’re proud to have delivered on EVERY gallon of fuel where customers entrusted us with our pre-payment & budget programs. Financial strength is extremely important when you choose a dealer since you want what you paid for during winter, not excuses or to hear they’re out of business.
The vast majority of propane gas & fuel oil dealers are honest, hard working people that deliver every gallon you pay for but there are the few rogue ‘discount’ fly-by-nights that shamelessly steal from unsuspetcing, trusting consumers. We can’t say it enough – it’s best to buy from a reputable, long established fuel oil / propane gas supplier that uses theft-proof electronic meters that are sealed by the division of weights and measures so you can be assured that there are no games.
We pride ourselves at Combined Energy Services on our reputation since 1968. Our customers can rest assured we’re behind every purchase 24 hours per day. Our meters are certified by the various counties or state testing agencies, all checked annually. We have an unblemished record with all agencies that deal with truck meters. At any time you’d like to check the seals on our truck meters or would like to see the meter at “zero” when we start – simply ask any of our drivers. After over 50 years of taking care of customers, we proudly have nothing to hide!