Attorney general sues AmeriGas and reaches settlement with Ferrellgas for price gouging

Posted at 11:07 PM, Sep 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-22 23:07:50-04

LANSING, Mich. – The attorney general’s investigation into alleged violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by propane dealer Ferrellgas has resulted in a settlement.

Monday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced a settlement reached with Ferrellgas to pay customers relief from price gouging. Under an assurance agreement, Ferrellgas will pay more than 600 customers a share of relief that totals more than $100,000.

Then, while in Berrien County, Schuette also announced that he filed a separate, class-action lawsuit against AmeriGas.

The AG is in pursuit of monetary relief for Michigan customers from companies that failed to honor customers’ locked-in per gallon prices, as well as failing to honor prices quoted over the phone.

In Hastings, Connie Raterink and her husband told FOX 17 they depend on propane to heat their home through the winter, especially Raterink, who battles rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Last winter she said her propane tank went down to one percent because AmeriGas would not honor their delivery dates or their price. “I don`t ever want to experience that again,” said Raterink. “It was so stressful. Stress is another thing that will make me flare up with my health issues. So it was terrible."

Raterink said she and her husband were paying $563 each month since last Christmas, paying off their debt to AmeriGas that well-exceeded their expected budget.

Raterink showed FOX 17 her invoice from February of this year when AmeriGas charged her $4.09 per gallon. Raterink calls that price gouging, and she wrote to the AG last winter. This sparked an investigation into hundreds of Ferrellgas and AmeriGas customer complaints.

“I feel slapped,” said Raterink. “There are people who have changed their gas companies like they change their underwear: If they don`t like them, they get rid of them. We have stayed with them for 11 years, and for somebody else to be able to come in at one dollar a gallon almost cheaper, to me it`s just a slap.”

Raterink also said she was also a victim of late delivery dates, which caused her health to suffer.

"The last day when I finally got gas, I still wasn`t on the schedule for delivery that day,” said Raterink. “I told them, ‘I have severe health problems, and you`re going to let me run out of propane when I have been a great customer, paid my bills for 11 years? This is ridiculous.’”

The AG said Ferrellgas will issue credit and refund customers by October 15, 2014.

For more information regarding reimbursement or customer complaints, see this link to the Attorney General’s website.