Tuesday, 22 January 2019 10:54

Customers upset by fuel company's 'hazmat fee'

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YARMOUTH (WGME) - Customers of Downeast Energy say their fuel deliveries just became more expensive.

A notice sent by the company in December announced a new, additional charge and some aren't happy about it.


One customer in Durham says his oil delivery last month came with the notice -- and an extra $11 dollar charge that Downeast Energy called a "hazmat fee."


"I've been a customer at this place for over 13 years," said Raymond Smith, who is not a happy customer.


Smith's receipt showed $350 spent on an oil delivery, plus an $11.62 hazmat fee.


"It's unnecessary. It's a ripoff. It's just a way to line their own pockets," he said.


A notice from Downeast Energy said the new fee was implemented on Dec. 17 for all propane and fuel customers to help offset costs related to government compliance for handling hazardous materials, safety, emergency preparedness and environmental protection.


The fine print says it's not authorized or imposed by any local, state or federal law.


"It basically says, 'Hey, we're charging you this money and we're not giving it to anybody,'" Smith said.


Chris Defilippo, vice president of marketing for Downeast Energy, said the fee is a way to be more transparent with customers about safety.


When asked why the fee is being introduced now, Defilipo said it is because company officials are seeing more suppliers do it in other states.


The head of the Maine Energy Marketers Association said that hazmat fees are not uncommon across the country but that he has not heard of them much in Maine.


Smith admitted that he is frugal and that while he has been loyal to Downeast, he does not want to pay more when he can get the same product elsewhere.


"I can't help but think they're gonna lose customers," he said, adding that he is currently in the process of finding a new company.