State’s Home Heating Oil Delivery Inspections Underway
Boston, MA (January 30, 2017) – The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s Division of Standards is out in neighborhoods statewide this winter conducting spot-check inspections for accuracy in home heating oil deliveries and pricing. Inspectors with the Division of Standards work to do the following:
- Check delivery trucks metering devices for presence of security seals. Trucks with broken or missing security seals or where there is evidence of tampering are taken out of service until the meters are re-tested.
- Examine tickets to ensure that the number of gallons printed on the delivery ticket matches the number of gallons indicated on the meter display.
- Ensure that delivery tickets are being printed out accurately.
- Ensure delivery trucks are properly certified.
A survey this month conducted by the state’s Department of Energy Resources reports an increase in the price of home heating oil, with costs averaging $2.58 per gallon. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates consumers who warm their homes with heating oil will spend an average of $378 more this winter, a 38% increase.
“Consumers need to feel confident that they are getting what they pay for when it comes to their home heating oil,” said Consumer Affairs Undersecretary John Chapman. “Inspectors from the Division of Standards take their role in consumer protection seriously and will continue their efforts to ensure accurate deliveries throughout the winter months.”
In recent years, the Division of Standards has issued civil citations to various oil companies for infractions found during random stops of delivery trucks. These violations have resulted in approximately $1,200 in fines. Issues range from outdated seals on trucks, unsealed or broken meters, delivery tickets lacking the price per gallon and customers reporting that they were either overcharged or received a “short” delivery.
Consumers looking to ensure that they are getting what they paid for should:
- Save all fuel delivery slips. The delivery tickets can be used by local weights and measures personnel and the Division for auditing purposes in the event a consumer questions the amount of fuel delivered.
- Compare the delivery ticket to the amount of gallons ordered and check that the amount is printed on the ticket. Massachusetts law requires delivery tickets be mechanically printed and must display the date, price per gallon, total gallons delivered, and the identity of the person making the delivery.
- Check the bill sent from the supplier to make sure the unit price charges are the same as on your delivery ticket.
- If you doubt you received the full delivery quantity, contact your local weights and measures personnel or the Division of Standards.
NOTE: Reporters who would like to participate in a ride-along with the Division’s inspectors should contact Jackie Horigan at the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation at (617) 973-8711 or Jacqueline.M.Horigan@state.ma.us. 48 hours advance notice is required for scheduling.
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the State’s lemon laws, data breach reporting, and home improvement contractor programs, and the State’s Do Not Call Registry. Follow the office at its blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter @Mass Consumer.
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