Updated Fri, Jan 31, 2014 2:04 pm
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Thursday that his office will be “actively monitoring” complaints about propane pricing and alleged shortages.
DeWine has been receiving complaints from Ohioans that propane suppliers have not been filing tanks with appropriate speed and have been charging higher than usual prices.
It is estimated that about six percent of Ohioans use propane for home heating. Many have been informed by suppliers that propane availability is down and that price increases are related to depleted inventories.
However, many citizens disagree and believe the suppliers are price gouging during the critical cold weather this winter.
“We want to assure Ohioans that we will carefully monitor reports of potential price gouging or other unfair business practices related to the extreme cold,” Attorney General DeWine said.
“We want all Ohioans to be safe during these frigid days. If you use propane to heat your home, be especially careful. Contact your propane supplier before your tank reaches emergency levels and reach out for help as soon as you need it,” DeWine warned.
Ohio does not have a special statute against price gouging, but DeWine notes that Ohio does have laws prohibiting “unconscionable sales practices.”
“A practice could be considered unconscionable if the supplier knew at the time of the transaction that the price was substantially higher than the price at which similar good or services could be readily obtained,” DeWine said.
The Attorney General’s Office has established a toll free number for people to report suspected price gouging or other unfair practices. The number is 1-800-282-0515. Consumers also can visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov to register complaints.