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Attorney General Settles Consumer Protection Claims Against Irving Energy For $425,000

CONTACT: Justin E. Kolber, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

March 31, 2014

Irving Energy, one of the largest propane retailers in New England, has agreed to pay $165,938 to Vermont consumers, $160,000 to LIHEAP -- the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program -- and $100,000 in civil penalties to the State of Vermont, to settle claims that the company violated Vermont consumer protection laws. The Attorney General found that for many Vermonters, Irving delayed removing propane storage tanks and issuing refund checks after consumers terminated propane service. “When Vermont propane customers terminate service, a supplier must promptly remove its tank and reimburse any monies due the customer,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “A failure to meet these obligations can be expensive. We encourage Vermont consumers to let us know if their legal rights have not been satisfied.”

Current Vermont law generally requires companies to remove propane tanks within 20 days of a customer’s request to terminate service, and to issue refund checks within 20 days of disconnection. Statutory penalties apply for delays beyond the allowable timeframes.

Irving identified 197 consumers who, between January 1, 2010, and October 10, 2012, experienced delays in removing a tank or receiving a refund. Within the next 4-6 weeks, these consumers will receive an envelope from the Attorney General’s Office containing an explanatory letter and payment (with an average payment of $500 for tank delays, and almost $1,000 for refund delays). Before the settlement, Irving had a practice of issuing refunds to consumers as a “credit” on the terminated account, rather than mailing a check.

Under the terms of the settlement, Irving will: (1) no longer issue refunds as a credit (unless a consumer agrees to it); (2) make payments of nearly $166,000 to almost 200 Vermont consumers to resolve any delay in propane service termination for the time period January 1, 2010, through October 10, 2012; and (3) promptly review any future consumer complaints regarding propane service termination. Vermont’s LIHEAP program will also receive $160,000 and the State of Vermont $100,000 from this settlement. This is the third settlement since 2012 with a propane provider that failed to abide by Vermont’s timeframes regarding service termination.

Consumers who have questions about the settlement (or to file a complaint) may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program, by phone: (802) 656-3183 or 1-800-649-2424, by email at Consumer@uvm.edu, or by mail to: Consumer Assistance Program, 146 University Place, Burlington, VT 05405.

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