News » AmeriGas issues accidental bills

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Kate MacDonald has not been a customer of AmeriGas Propane company for several years. So when the Wofford Heights resident received a bill for $142 last month from AmeriGas, she was curious and a bit confused as to why she was being billed and what the charges were for.

When MacDonald contacted the local AmeriGas office in Lake Isabella, she was told that the bill was for the rental on her propane tank; however, the propane tank at MacDonald's home does not belong to AmeriGas.
Not only did MacDonald receive a bill in the amount of $106 from a company that she does not subscribe to for a propane tank that does not belong to that company, the bill included a late fee of $36.

MacDonald's frustration was fueled by the fact that this was the second year that she received a bill from AmeriGas, although she has not been a customer of theirs for more than two years. Last year when she received the bill, she contacted AmeriGas and was told that the billing error would be corrected.
"They told me last year that they were addressing it," MacDonald said.

She said that when she pointed this out to the company representative, she was told that they had bad data, and although they took the charges off last year, they did not get into the equipment rental data.

"I was told that basically anybody who ever had any kind of business with either Blue Flame or Atchison propane company had been sent a bill and was being charged for the annual tank rental," MacDonald said.
AmeriGas purchased two local propane companies - Blue Flame and Atchison Propane - several years ago, acquiring the customer base of both companies.

In response to an inquiry to AmeriGas, Kate Stickel, Director of Corporate Communications, said that the erroneous bills go back a few years, when AmeriGas acquired a small propane company in the Kern Valley.

"Their tank ownership records were inaccurate," Stickel said. "As we transitioned these customers into our system, some of the errors were caught, and some were not."

MacDonald said that after speaking to a representative from AmeriGas, she got the impression that it is up to each individual person who received a bill to contact the company explaining that they are not AmeriGas customers.

"My biggest concern is that the bill did not say it was for tank rental. So what about the elderly people up here? So many of them will pay any bill that comes in. They wouldn't even question it, they would just pay it," MacDonald said. "I cannot imagine how many people will pay the bill."

Stickel urges Kern Valley residents who are no longer AmeriGas customers who have incorrectly received an invoice from them to call the phone number that is listed on the invoice, which is the local AmeriGas office.
"If you have already paid one of these invoices, please contact your local AmeriGas office and we will issue an immediate refund," Stickel said.

Stickel assures Kern Valley residents that corrections will be made.

"As inaccuracies are brought to our attention, we immediately correct them, cancelling invoices and issuing any necessary credits or refunds," Stickel said.

Stickel did not have an estimated number of customers who may have received the incorrect billing. She added that the errors are corrected as they are discovered and brought to the company's attention.

MacDonald said another concern is whether the past due bills could affect customers' credit rating, pointing out that if the errors are not brought to the attention of AmeriGas, the late fees would keep accruing, which could ultimately affect the individual's credit.

MacDonald said she hopes that people who have received a bill from AmeriGas and are not customers will contact the company, rather than simply ignore the invoice, or worse yet, pay the bill.

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