BBB of Akron has received numerous recent complaints since December 1, 2017 from consumers saying they ordered propane from Thrifty Propane and did not receive it in a timely manner, even when the order was prepaid. Additionally, consumers complained that when they attempted to contact the business, they received poor customer service. With the exceptionally low temperatures this week, this has caused consumers to purchase propane elsewhere, incurring emergency fees. Some consumers have even had to leave their own homes due to lack of heat. The average reported value involved in complaints filed for December 2017 and January 2018 transactions is $1369.00. This is not the first time BBB has reported a surge of complaints for Thrifty Propane at this time of year. BBB contacted the business as long ago as July 2014 concerning complaints filed by consumers. Thrifty attributed those complaints to a national propane gas shortage, which occurred during the winter of 2013-2014. In January 2016, the Ohio Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Thrifty Propane, Inc. for misrepresenting its service and failing to deliver propane to consumers across the state. In August 2016, Thrifty Propane, Inc. entered into a settlement with the Ohio Attorney General. Under terms of the Agreed Judgement Entry, the business agreed to implement and maintain business practices designed in a commercially reasonable manner to minimize customer service related concerns, including, but not limited to: failure to provide propane deliveries, repeated missed propane delivery dates, failure to communicate with consumers regarding installation dates or delays, inability by consumers to reach Thrifty Propane's customer service representatives, and failure by customer service representatives to return customer calls. It was also ordered that Thrifty Propane was liable for a civil penalty in the amount of $25,000. BBB encourages consumers no matter where they live to choose their propane provider wisely with these tips and questions to ask:- Always check a company’s BBB Business Profile first to review their BBB rating and complaint history.- Inquire about delivery options – are deliveries automatic or on an as needed basis? Determine which option fits your needs best. Is there a separate delivery fee?- Are employees (including drivers) nationally certified? Is the propane supply company registered and insured in the state in whch it operates?- Be sure to ask the provider about their safety record and programs.- Check pricing plans for the pricing programs that are reasonable and work with your budget.- Does the company offer 24/7 customer support staffed by a live representative?- Does the supplier provide afterhours emergency services for events such as gas leaks? - Are there early termination fees in the contract? What action triggers these fees?In all cases, be sure to read and review your written propane supplier contract so you have a good understanding of the products and services they have agreed to provide. While pricing is important, don’t forget to consider their delivery and service commitments. Whether or not your provider has the lowest prices doesn’t matter much when they fail to deliver on a cold winter’s night. Look for a provider that not only offers reliable service, but automatic delivery if applicable.