Reminder to Consumers and Fuel Dealers about June 30th Deadline

Department of Professional and Financial Regulation Issues Reminder to Consumers and Fuel Dealers about June 30th Deadline in New Maine Law Regarding Pre-Paid Contracts

GARDINER – Commissioner Anne L. Head from Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation issued a reminder Wednesday about the June 30th deadline for fuel dealers who offer pre-paid contracts to register with the Department.

Intended to 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 Paul R. LePage.

The new law responds to several recent examples of dealers taking money from Maine consumers, but then failing to supply the fuel, leaving the consumers without oil and unable to recover their money.  Several legislators, including Representative Kerri Prescott, encouraged legislative action and worked with fuel dealers, the Department and additional stakeholders to enact LD 1895.

“The vast majority of fuel dealers in Maine are reputable and honest,” Commissioner Head commented.  “To discourage cases when dealers don’t meet their obligation, however, Maine law has been changed to require greater accountability.”

The new law requires a fuel 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 Department by June 30th of each year.  It also requires these dealers to file a report with the agency by October 31st each year to indicate the manner of compliance.

Additionally, the law requires that the annual report form includes 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.

“The Department was pleased to work with fuel dealers, the Attorney General’s Office, and legislators to develop a new law intended to discourage dealers from failing to meet the terms of their pre-paid contacts,” Commissioner Head added.  “The Department will work cooperatively with dealers and hopefully provide more protection for consumers.”

Consumers wishing to check on whether a fuel company registers by the June 30th deadline can call the Department at (207) 624-8525.

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