Cabin owners left in the cold by broken propane promises

Jan 5, 2023, 12:55 PM | Updated: 12:58 pm

OAKLEY, Utah — The stories are similar: owners of rural homes scheduled propane deliveries, but weeks went by with no phone calls and no deliveries.

Jeff Campbell had been working on some upgrades to his family’s cabin near Oakley. While he would normally close up the cabin for winter, he needed to keep it heated while workers completed the projects.

“Once the construction got done, we winterize it and we’re done for the winter,” Campbell explained.

In October, he ordered a refill of the cabin’s propane tank from AmeriGas and received confirmation that it would be delivered within three to five days.

The delivery never came.

Campbell said he called repeatedly, but a month later, the propane still had not been delivered.

Temperatures plunged, and Campbell said one day, the workers arrived to find the cabin too cold.

“The toilet bowls were frozen, the toilet tanks were frozen,” he said.

To thaw the pipes, and keep construction moving, Campbell said he was forced to buy electric and propane heaters. He estimated the cost to be around $1,000.

Jeff Campbell explaining his situation to KSL Investigates Matt Gephardt. (KSL-TV)

Campbell said every time he called AmeriGas, he got the same answer.

“Dispatch would be in touch with me within 24 hours,” Campbell said. “A company that big, I’m shocked that I’ve not had one call back. That’s the thing that baffles me the most.”

It was the same problem Victoria Schmidt experienced, when she also requested a refill at her mountain ranch in October.

An AmeriGas customer, Schmidt, said they’d never had an issue before this year.

Like Campbell, Schmidt called AmeriGas multiple times when repeated deadlines for delivery resulted in no-shows.

“No one calls, no one comes,” she lamented. Schmidt got several notices promising “emergency delivery” and “within 24 hours.”

Schmidt does not live full-time at the property, and was frustrated at the lack of communication to make sure she could be present, after she was told he must be there for the refill since the tank was showing 0% propane.

“Do I just go up in a house that’s not heated and wait for them for ten days?” she questioned. “How do I know if I can’t communicate with them, and they don’t communicate with me?”

Both Campbell and Schmidt can’t simply call another propane company to fill their tanks: they’re leased from AmeriGas. They reached out to Get Gephardt for help.

An AmeriGas propane office in Salt Lake City, Utah. (KSL-TV)

As we began digging, we found Campbell and Schmidt weren’t alone in their frustrations getting propane delivered.

In mid-December, Governor Cox issued an executive order “declaring a liquid petroleum gas emergency” due to “extreme weather conditions” and a “drop in propane supply…causing long lines at loading facilities.”

The order suspended federal limits on how many hours propane delivery trucks can be on the road each day have having to “travel hundreds of miles out of route” to provide their products. A similar executive order was issued just 11 months earlier, in Jan. 2022.

AmeriGas pointed to some of those issues when we reached out about Campbell and Schmidt’s deliveries, with their spokesperson writing in an email that the “weather has been incredibly challenging” and “the need for customer demand increasing.”

Shortly after our emails, each homeowner got some welcome news.

Schmidt finally received a partial delivery.

Campbell reported that AmeriGas signed over their tank to him, so he can now purchase propane from his chosen company.

AmeriGas did not comment on their lack of communication with either party.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at the KSL Investigates email or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

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Cabin owners left in the cold by broken propane promises