Ferrellgas, AmeriGas settle consumer protection case

February 1, 2014 By    

Ferrellgas and AmeriGas agreed to pay a total of $1.8 million in civil penalties and costs in an unlawful business practices case in California, according to a news release from Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten that also cites six additional district attorneys offices.

In 2008, facing rising costs, the companies reduced the volume of propane in their grilling cylinders from 17 pounds to 15 pounds, shortening grilling time by between 60 and 90 minutes, the release states. The reduced weight was displayed on cylinder labels but not on cage signs, it adds.

Prosecutors alleged the companies filled tanks in a manner that was deceptive to consumers and made statements in advertisements and on product placards that were misleading, the release states.

Ferrellgas and its cylinder exchange division Blue Rhino paid $1 million in penalties, while AmeriGas and cylinder exchange company AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange paid $800,000. According to the release, the companies agreed to post notices on propane cylinder enclosures informing consumers of the actual amount of propane in the tanks.

“Blue Rhino has maintained throughout this investigation that its prominent net weight disclosures were legally sufficient,” Ferrellgas said in a prepared statement. “Although not mentioned by the district attorneys, the net weight of each tank was displayed prominently on the outside of Blue Rhino cages and visible to consumers before purchase. Nevertheless, Blue Rhino intends to cooperate with the district attorneys’ request that consumers have even more information at the point of sale.”

AmeriGas responded only by saying, “We do value our customers and we seek to provide them with value and reliable service.”

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