SUNFIELD, Mich. — An Ionia County man battling cancer had some big issues with AmeriGas.
He tells FOX 17 the company ignored his pleas for propane after he ran out. That’s when a local non-profit got involved to try and fix the situation.
About a month ago, Heap Him and his family went more than a week with no heat or means to cook.
When the gas finally arrived, it showed up nearly a week later than promised.
After FOX 17 contacted the company, his issue was fixed the next day.
“The company said, ‘We’ll do it as an emergency.’ I thought, like, the next few days or day. And then we keep waiting and waiting,” said Him, a missionary from Cambodia. “And so we keep praying and continued to use the woodstove, but at night we just used a lot of blankets and so it’s kinda hard,” he said. “You cannot take advantage of the poor like that, you know?”
Mr. Him was diagnosed with leukemia back in May. “And so the doctor got me treatment right away, and so they decided to get me on treatment for 12 rounds with IVs, and I did that a few months ago,” he told FOX 17. In August, Him moved to Sunfield in Ionia County. Last month, he started having issues getting his propane tank filled by AmeriGas.
The family had gone more than a week without heat. Mr. Him said that he struggled to get any real answers from AmeriGas.
“I was kinda nervous and worried about my own health and also my children, so it was hard,” he said. “This is a different country. We live in a country that’s 100 degrees every day, but this is different.”
It was just another added burden on top of his medical problems.
“And when I talked to them, they said, ‘Oh yea we’ll take care of it.’ But they never came; it was so frustrating,” he said. “But they said, ‘We’ll come in 9 days to 14 days,’ and I was like, ‘Wow that takes too long.' So we tried to use our wood stove to heat up while we’re waiting.”
Mr. Him’s 12 cancer treatments cost roughly $60,000 each. The oncology department at Sparrow Ionia Hospital knew about his struggles, and workers reached out to Ionia Community Awareness to get him some help. The non-profit fundraising group gives back 100% of what comes in to those fighting cancer. President Diane Grummet got the call.
Tina Conner-Wellman, one of nine board members, talked with FOX 17 about how they tried to help. “We like to make sure that people who are fighting cancer have less to worry about so they can focus on their recovery,” she said.
The group took Mr. Him’s account information and contacted AmeriGas on his behalf, making calls daily in efforts to get the issue fixed, and "was reassured that, yes, they knew he has not received his propane. Yes, they knew he was out of propane and that they would deliver that day,” said Conner-Wellman.
On Friday, January 22, they were told an emergency delivery would be there the next day. But it did not come on Saturday. Or Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday.
The first delivery of only 100 gallons was not until Thursday, six days after the company said it would be there.
“They said, ‘Gosh we don’t know why they only put in 100 gallons, oh, because it says he’s 75 percent full,’ said Conner-Wellman. "I said, ‘We have been calling for days. He called for a week before that to say he’s empty. Every day, you’ve said he’s empty."
Crews came back the next day to fill the remaining 325 gallons.
His bill then showed a charge for $300 dollars for the “special trip” and his account balance was up to nearly $1,200.
Ionia Community Awareness wrote a check for $880 but protested the $300 delivery fee. “And that was for an emergency, that was for a delivery that day or the next day,” said Conner-Wellman, "and so when everything finally got taken care of, we thought we weren’t going to be charged anything."
The group sent the payment through certified mail, and it’s now posted to Mr. Him’s account.
The missionary from Cambodia is thankful for everyone stepping in to help.
After talking with Mr. Him and the group for this story, I reached out to AmeriGas and was given this statement:
Mr. Him, in error, was charged $300 for an expedited delivery that did not occur within the expected window. We reversed the charge immediately after we recognized this error. His account was credited for the charge. We also provided Mr. Him with 100 gallons of propane at zero charge as a sincere apology for his experience and to show our appreciation of his business. AmeriGas employees live and work in the communities in which we serve, making reliable customer service both personal to us – and our top priority.
NOTE: FOX 17 was also told that, per his initial contract, Mr. Him was supposed to monitor his own tank and contact the company when he hit 30%. Since he has reached out, he's now set up with a system where the company monitors the tank for him to make sure he never runs out again.