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Consumer Alert: Oil customers continue to wait for deliveries

Oil companies claim they've been working overtime to keep up with the recent demand for home heating oil, but some auto-delivery customers told NBC 10 News their tanks are nearly empty. (WJAR)

Oil companies claim they've been working overtime to keep up with the recent demand for home heating oil, but some auto-delivery customers told NBC 10 News their tanks are nearly empty.

Most of the time, auto-delivery is a huge convenience. The oil company stops by every month and fills your tank, automatically.

But what happens when you're using more oil than usual, and your heating oil company is busy?

“I can't get oil, and I'm scared,” said auto-delivery customer Carol Sawyer.

“I need to keep my heat down because they're not coming,” added Laurie Williams.

Last week, both Williams and Sawyer took the advice of many home heating oil companies. Days before the January 4 snow storm, they checked their tanks and requested an earlier delivery, so they didn't run out of oil.

Unfortunately, right now, demand for home heating oil is extraordinarily high.

About a week after calling, neither Williams, nor Sawyer had received a delivery.

Because their heating oil company, Petro Home Services, penalizes customers for ordering from another company, all Williams and Sawyer could do was wait.

“I was told that if I got delivery from someone else, I would be breaching contract, and would be subject to the $399 fee,” said Williams.

On Monday, NBC10 spent hours attempting to contact Petro to clarify the policy.

Would the company waive the fee, given the extenuating circumstances?

A representative from Petro said yes, the $399 fee is handled on a case by case basis. If Petro couldn't deliver to a customer who was out of oil, the company would likely waive the fee.

Petro said they delivered to Williams and Sawyer on Monday, before they ran out of oil.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can always purchase a few gallons of diesel at the gas station and fill up the tank yourself. That fuel should hold you over for a day or two.

It's also important to look over the fine print of your home heating oil contract, especially since oil prices are often cheaper if you forego the convenience of auto-delivery.

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