What To Do When Your Heating Oil Company Goes Bankrupt
When the temperature dips below freezing, home owners want to know their heating oil supply is secure. Whether you’re on a regular delivery schedule or get your oil on demand, you want to know when you turn the thermostat up there’s enough oil in the tank to keep you warm.
Because home heating oil, like most petroleum products, is traded like a commodity, the price and supply can vary throughout the winter. Everything from the weather to fuel supplies abroad can affect not only how much you pay, but whether particular oil delivery services can make deliveries and meet their customers’ demands.
Most oil delivery companies in New Hampshire are reputable businesses that have secure supplier contracts to get them through the winter, but like in any industry, there is always the risk that a supplier could find itself in tough financial shape. In some cases that means supply disruption and even bankruptcy.
There are ways that customers can protect themselves from companies in poor financial standing. Fortunately for New Hampshire, there are many oil delivery companies with good reputations and close ties to their communities, but we advise homeowners make sure they are buying heating oil from a reputable source. If you find you’ve signed a pre-buy contract with a company you are not happy with there are options, too.
1. Check with the Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau of New Hampshire is a well-trusted source for information about the state’s businesses. Customers can search heating oil delivery services by name to find ratings, reviews and complaints if they believe they’ve been treated unfairly. There are 31 oil-fuel services listed on the New Hampshire site, including M.L. Halle Oil Services, which has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
2. Contact the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office
When it comes to protecting consumers in New Hampshire, the Attorney General’s Office is there to serve the people’s interests. Its Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau takes business complaints from residents and in some cases offers mediation. The Bureau also runs a Business Search Portal where residents can look up businesses and see a list of complaints filed against the company in recent years. This is another good place to check when vetting an oil delivery service.
3. Reputation matters. Check around.
The best source of information about oil delivery services is your friends, family and neighbors. They can tell you much more about the company than just price. Customer service, prompt delivery, reliability and a range of payment plans are just some of the additional factors customers should consider when choosing a service.
For example, last winter thousands of New Hampshire residents who heat with oil had their pre-paid oil service interrupted and were forced to shop around in the middle of winter for another company to fill their empty tanks.
Companies like M.L. Halle Oil saw the effect this had on homeowners and have prepared for possible problems this coming winter, from extreme cold to customers finding themselves mid-winter in search of fuel. Halle has increased staff, added the number of delivery trucks in service and has been in regular communication with suppliers. All to make sure our regular customers, as well as any new customers in need of our services, have oil in their tanks.
Oil prices are at the lowest since 2010, so customers will be able to find great deals. There is also plenty of oil out there to keep New Hampshire homes warm, but people must do their research before signing any pre-buy contracts. Make sure to properly vet your oil delivery service company to make sure they can deliver all year long and won’t leave you out in the cold.