Propane is a versatile, cost-effective and clean method of heating your home. Unlike working with a utility, where you have very limited or no choice of who your provider will be, heating with propane provides the opportunity to choose who you will be relying on to supply your fuel. Selecting a propane provider isn’t as easy as picking the lowest price. Most of the time, when you look a bit deeper, the cheapest initial price isn’t the smartest investment.
There are several other important factors that go into choosing the right propane provider. To help you determine which propane provider is right for you, we’ve prepared this useful guide which includes some important considerations to factor into your decision.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Propane Provider
Most propane providers have special introductory offers that expire, moving you to a higher price later in the year. This isn’t necessarily bad, but you should always be certain to compare the standard (non-promotional) pricing and take it into consideration when you compare providers.
Finding out the real price for propane can sometimes feel like a shell game. Crystal Flash offers fair, transparent and upfront pricing with no hidden fees.
It’s always wise to assess how much emphasis a potential provider will put on your family’s safety. Find out if they follow all government and industry safety regulations as directed by the MPGA and NPGA. Do you get a feeling that they may put your safety at risk by cutting corners? Is the provider’s vehicle fleet constantly being upgraded? Are their trucks and equipment well-maintained and undergoing daily, documented, safety inspections? Find out what kind of certifications their technicians and drivers have. Do they undergo regular, ongoing training? Before you invite them to your home, ask if all their employees undergo background checks. Do they undergo daily health screenings?
Crystal Flash checks all the boxes listed above. “Safety for people and the environment” is one of our company’s core values — and we live it every day. These extra precautions are part of what we call The Crystal Flash Difference.
When you need help with your service, there’s something to be said for being able to talk with a person living right in your community. Customers will often tell us that working with big, out-of-state propane providers simply doesn’t lend itself to good customer service and responsiveness. And how involved are they in your community?
Crystal Flash is Michigan-based and 100% employee-owned with local offices located across the state. Working with a regional provider like Crystal Flash also helps keep taxes, wages and jobs local. We are active in the communities where we live and work and we’re proud to generously give back through several areas of philanthropic support. You might see us at the county fair, at fundraising events or participating in parades and festivals. In fact, Crystal Flash supports around 200 different local organizations and events each year!
It’s not unusual to have questions about your propane service, especially when you aren’t an experienced propane customer. It can be confusing. Our team of dedicated customer service experts help people understand the “ins and outs” of propane every day.
In addition to our normal customer phone support hours, during the busy heating season, we also offer extended phone support hours, including on Saturdays. Our new online customer portal is packed with enhanced features designed to put our customers squarely in control of their accounts whenever it’s convenient for them. Crystal Flash also offers 24/7 emergency phone support if something unexpected arises. You won’t find that with most other providers.
When the cold Michigan weather takes its toll, that last thing you want to discover is that your propane provider is having supply issues or that they’ve opportunistically jacked up their rates to capitalize on high demand. Our customers never have to worry about Crystal Flash running out of propane. Unlike most other suppliers, we buy and store millions of gallons to ensure we have the propane you need, when you need it, all at a reasonable price. CF offers multiple different price protection plans so you’ll always know what your price will be prior to the heating season.
Doing business with “integrity in everything we do” is one of the reasons that we’ve earned a reputation from our customers for being dependable, reliable and easy to do business with. In a recent third-party survey, 97% of Crystal Flash customers said they consider it easy to do business with us*.
*Source: Mindspot Research, Customer Experience Tracking Study, Spring 2020
What kind of fees should you expect?
Hidden fees can really add up and quickly negate a seemingly low introductory price.
Crystal Flash believes that while some fees can be necessary (nominal charges simply passed along from us to another entity, like the government, for example), we believe that limiting fees and being open and transparent with our customers is just the right way to go about things.
There are some fees that almost all propane providers pass along to customers, these may include: a regulatory compliance fee to cover charges assessed by government agencies such as the EPA, OSHA and DOT, the regulated and mandatory PERC fee (Propane Education & Research Council), Michigan sales tax and fees for extra/premium services or other situations such as emergency deliveries or for a leak test (which is required by law when there is an interruption in service, like running out of propane).
Here are some common “hidden fees” that other suppliers may try to sneak by you:
Budget programs are very useful tools that help customers manage/balance their energy expenditures throughout the year. Most propane suppliers offer a budget program; some have started charging extra fees to participants. Crystal Flash’s Budget Payment Plan is free to enroll in and there are no hidden fees.
Customers that choose to pre-buy propane each year from their supplier can usually earn savings off each gallon. Some suppliers have actually started charging their pre-buy customers a Storage Fee for this service, which sort of defeats the purpose, really. Crystal Flash doesn’t charge any Storage Fees.
Some propane suppliers will subject you to expensive start-up costs. They may charge you an enrollment fee to lock-in a specific price, for example. When choosing your provider, make sure you’re doing the math to verify the “real” price. You won’t find start-up costs at Crystal Flash… no enrollment fees, no activation fees, no tank set fees and no lock-in fees.
A number of propane suppliers have started adding an extra delivery fee for customers who prefer “Will Call” ordering. One of the national propane suppliers is tacking on over $20 per delivery, for example. Crystal Flash’s standard pricing is the same for our customers no matter what delivery type they choose.
Another new catch is the use of multi-year contracts by some propane suppliers. One customer informed us recently that their former supplier wanted them to sign a three-year agreement that came with a $200 termination fee. Crystal Flash does not require multi-year contracts or charge termination fees.
Some propane suppliers will charge you an annual fee just to use their tank, no matter how many gallons you use each year. On rare occasions, we will pass along a tank lease fee to a customer that has an underutilized tank sitting on their property, but Crystal Flash will never charge you “rent” just to use our tank.
This one is especially common when a customer gets “a low introductory offer”. Watch the fine print here. Crystal Flash will not charge you to have a tank set on your property or to install gas lines under 40 feet long.
In summary, “When it doubt, talk to us!”
Helping people understand propane and all the available options is what we do every day. We pride ourselves at looking for the best solution for each individual customer’s situation. If you’ve got a question about your Crystal Flash service or bill — or maybe you’ve got an offer from some other company that just seems too good to be true, call the employee-owners of Crystal Flash at 855.774.9318 and we’ll be happy to walk you through some of the decision points and considerations. We’re here to help!