‘Everything was too high’: Church turns to Action 9 to get refund on propane costs

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — Leaders from a Stanly County church turned to Action 9 when they needed help getting money back from a propane company.

Pastor Sandy Young was worried about church finances at Wesley Chapel United Methodist, so board member Lane Peeler started reviewing expenses. He realized they were spending a lot on propane.

“Everything was too high,” Peeler said.

He told Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke that they decided to switch companies. The company they stopped using, AmeriGas, came and collected the remaining fuel and was supposed to give the church a refund of $796 for it.

But Peeler said the company didn’t follow through.

“Everybody told me they were going to fix it, but nobody fixed it,” he said. “It was just passed on and on and on… and I thought well, I’m going to have to talk to everybody in the company to get this done.”

That’s when Peeler contacted Action 9.

Stoogenke contacted AmeriGas on the church’s behalf. Peeler said a representative called him the next day.

“She said this is a mole hill that turned into a mountain and shouldn’t have,” Peeler said.

She also apologized and said the church would get its refund.

“I think you got to the place that I was trying to get to. I couldn’t get to the right people,” Peeler said. “I appreciate everything you’ve done.”

AmeriGas didn’t explain why the church hadn’t received its refund but told Stoogenke: “We apologize to the Methodist Church for the error we made with their fuel refund. We appreciate the clear and detailed information provided to us by the Methodist Church board member, who enabled us to make a full refund quickly, and we also removed all fees and charges back in July.”

According to a state official that Stoogenke contacted, propane prices are not regulated.

“There’s a lot of ‘buyer beware’ in it,” the official stated.

Stoogenke offers these tips for anyone who uses propane for home heating or powering appliances:

  • Shop around, and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
  • Ask about extra fees for things such as delivery, restocking, tank pick up or tank rental fees. Some companies charge more if you don’t order a certain amount each year. If you have a contract, that should detail the fees and the business should not add any additional fees.
  • Ask about special rates that could be available to charities and churches or a homeowner rate versus a renter rate. Some companies charge renters more because they see them as riskier when it comes to paying. The state official told Stoogenke that he found one company that offered 85 different prices.

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