ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO REACHES AGREEMENTS WITH SIX HOME HEATING OIL/PROPANE PROVIDERS OVER DECEPTIVE CONTRACTS & PRACTICES

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has reached settlements with six New York-based home heating oil companies serving the Hudson Valley, Catskills, Southern Tier and North Country for various violations over the past year, including improperly adding surcharges for credit card payments and failing to provide required notifications to consumers.

The agreements with Paraco Gas Corporation, Depew Oil Company, Inc., Vaincourt Fuels, Wilson Oil, Kuno Oil and Russo Fuel end various deceptive practices and provide refunds to more than 500 consumers who were wrongfully charged, as well as penalties and costs to the state.

“Home heating costs account for a substantial portion of most hard-working New Yorkers household budgets, and any illegitimate or surprise costs added to the bill are unacceptable,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “It is particularly disturbing when companies take advantage of consumers purchasing such a basic and needed service. I continue to urge all consumers to thoroughly review contracts before signing and to alert my office if they believe they are being subjected to misleading or deceptive acts.”

Rye Brook-based Paraco Gas Corporation services approximately 65,000 customers and has offices in the Hudson Valley, Catskills and Southern Tier. The Attorney General’s Office found that Paraco sent deceptive contracts that may have led consumers to believe they were signing up for fuel delivery for the 2008-2009 heating season only. However, the contracts constituted a 7-year commitment. The company also failed to notify customers in advance over automatic contract renewals.

The Attorney General’s agreement requires Paraco to reform its practices and contract language and pay $12,000 in penalties and costs to the state. The agreement also prohibits Paraco from penalizing customers who did not receive adequate notification of contract renewal and wish to cancel service.

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