New Protections for Consumers Using Pre-paid Home Heating Contracts

Governor and Department of Professional and Financial Regulation Announce New Protections for Consumers Using Pre-paid Home Heating Contracts

GARDINER – Governor Paul R. LePage and Commissioner Anne L. Head announced today that a new Maine law should provide greater protections to consumers who use pre-paid home heating contracts.  LD 1895, An Act To Protect Consumers by Strengthening the Laws Governing Prepaid Home Heating Oil Contracts, was signed into law as Public Law, Chapter 574, on March 30th by Governor LePage.

The new law responds to several recent examples of oil dealers taking money from Maine consumers, but then failing to supply the fuel, leaving the consumers without oil and the money they paid.  The Governor and Commissioner thanked the Legislature for acting quickly on this legislation.  They specifically praised Representatives Kerri Prescott and Alex Cornell du Houx, as well as Senator John Patrick, for raising awareness and promoting legislative action.

“Maine people can have confidence that the vast majority of our fuel dealers are completely reputable and honest in their dealings with customers,” Governor LePage commented.  “To discourage the rare case when a dealer doesn’t meet its obligation, however, Maine law has now been strengthened.”

The new law requires an oil dealer who offers prepaid contracts for home heating oil, kerosene or liquefied petroleum gas to Maine residents to register the dealer’s intent to offer such contracts with the commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation by June 30th of each year.  It also requires these dealers to file a report with the commissioner by October 31st each year to indicate the manner of compliance.

“The Department was pleased to work with fuel dealers, the Attorney General’s Office, and Representatives Prescott and Cornell du Houx to develop legislation intended to discourage dealers from failing to meet the terms of their pre-paid contacts,” Commissioner Head noted.  “The Department will work with dealers to provide an extra layer of protection to consumers.”

Additionally, the law requires that the annual report form include a notice that a false statement is punishable as a Class D crime.  Under the laws provisions, the Commissioner is required to refer to the Attorney General any registered dealer who fails to provide the required report or who makes a false statement on the required report.  The law provides that a violation of the requirements of Title 10, Section 1110 is a violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.

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