Let’s be honest, nobody really likes fees. In fact, there’s probably only one thing worse than fees… hidden fees. 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.
Some fees that you may see on your Crystal Flash propane bill:
(Our fees are always itemized on your bill, for transparency.)
Regulatory Compliance Fee (aka Reg Fee)
Government regulatory agencies such as the EPA, OSHA and DOT have many regulations for the propane industry. Like most propane suppliers, to remain in compliance, we implement a fee to help cover a portion of the regulations. This charge includes the Hazardous Materials fee required by law.
The regulated and mandatory PERC (Propane Education & Research Council) fee is levied on each gallon of propane gas odorized or imported into the United States. This is currently .005 cents per gallon.
In the State of Michigan, the government taxes home heating fuel at 4%.
Fees for extra/premium services or other situations
From time to time, you may need or request special services that will involve a fee. This may include calling for an emergency delivery or for a leak test (which is required by law when there is an interruption in service, like running out of propane). On rare occasions, a tank lease fee can be added if you have an underutilized tank sitting on your property. Lastly, because there are considerable costs involved with setting a tank, laying gas lines and full system checks (all of which we do not charge for) if a customer decides to exit early from their contract, we may charge a termination fee and/or a fuel pump out fee to cover some of these costs.
Some propane companies offer deceptively low “introductory pricing” loaded with hidden fees. Crystal Flash offers fair, transparent and upfront pricing with no hidden fees.
Most propane suppliers will pass along many of the same fees mentioned above, but it’s not unusual to see other fees sneaking onto their invoices. Oftentimes, this is a way for them to recover part or all of a seemingly low “introductory rate”, but it can also be just because they think no one will notice.
Additional fees that you may see on a propane bill from other suppliers:
(These will often be hidden/lumped in with other “miscellaneous charges” or not disclosed at all.)
Tank Rental Fee
Some propane suppliers will charge you an annual fee just to use their tank, no matter how many gallons you use each year.
Tank Set Fee
This one is especially common when a customer gets “a low introductory offer”. Watch the fine print here.
Tank Pick-Up Fee
Not surprisingly, propane suppliers don’t like losing customers. Some will try to recoup lost revenue, and cover their labor costs, while penalizing former customers for switching.
Minimum Delivery Fee
Have you ever ordered a smaller number of gallons than what would fill your tank? Some suppliers are now adding in a Minimum Delivery Fee if a customer orders anything other than a tank fill.
Low Usage Surcharges
Some propane suppliers have introduced Low Usage Surcharges (LUS) into their pricing. These surcharges penalize customers who fail to purchase a minimum amount of propane each year. Some suppliers use a “flat fee LUS” (one Michigan supplier is charging $95, for example), while others apply additional per gallon charges if you don’t meet their annual gallon minimums. We’ve seen as much as .55 cents extra per gallon! Again, watch the fine print!
Multi-year Contracts (with Termination Fee)
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.
Will Call Surcharge
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.
Enrollment Fee (aka Lock-In Fee)
You may be charged an Enrollment Fee to lock-in a specific price. Make sure you’re doing the math to verify the “real” price.
Budget Program Fee
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.
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.
Some suppliers are just determined to charge you some fees and not really tell you why. See the example below from another propane supplier, for instance. We really have no idea what this fee is for, do you?
In summary, “When it doubt, talk to us!”
Fees and surcharges can be confusing, and depending who you’re dealing with, that can be by design. Helping people understand the “ins and outs” of propane 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 800.875.4851 and we’ll be happy to walk you through some of the decision points and considerations. We’re here to help!