Oil Company Lawsuit
Hank Investigates: Oil Company Lawsuit
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Now customers may be getting their money back.
This oil delivery company is feeling the heat, it goes by Astro Fuel, Anchor Oil and Apollo Oil and according to the Attorney general's lawsuit, it committed "unfair and deceptive acts or practices" in selling home heating oil. And now the AG wants them to stop.
Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General
"We do believe that the patterns and practices of the behaviors violated the law, that's why we're going to court."
As we first showed you last year, customers thought they were getting a good deal on a single delivery of heating oil. But we found that "deal" left many customers shocked and angry and even frightened.
Some say they got unexpected bills
"Did you owe them any money?"
Some claim they got additional unexpected oil deliveries.
"Did you order the oil?"
Louise Gauthier, Customer
Some say they got unexpected fees and interest charges.
"I just think it's outrageous that someone would run a business the way she does."
And when angry customers didn't pay liens were recorded against their homes for the unpaid fuel bills and the homeowners knew nothing about it!
Michael Ferrante, MA Home Heating Oil Council:
"Home heating oil dealers, and there are many good ones, do not operate this way."
Customers say their troubles began after they took that one delivery.
Louise refused to pay for additional oil she says she never ordered--then late fees pushed her disputed $400 bill to 1600 dollars!
"They said well that's how we work. We've given you oil, now you have pay us."
Jackie's bill shows three deliveries on the same day when her home has only two oil tanks.
"They came once, they were paid once and I have my canceled check to prove it."
And it was these pieces of paper that shocked them all. At the Registry of Deeds, we found more than a hundred liens. Official claims filed by the company against customers homes trying to force them into paying a debt.
There's one on Louise's home, and Cara's and Jackie's.
"Does this seem like a reasonable bill collection practice?"
Michael Ferrante/MA Oil Heat Council
"This speaks to just sheer scare tactics."
The oil company's owner did not answer her door Wednesday, and calls to the company's attorney were not returned.
But they will have to answer to the attorney general's office. She wants the company to "pay... civil penalties," "dissolve... all improperly filed liens" and "Make full and complete restitution to each person injured by their unfair and deceptive practices"
The Attorney General is still investigating how much money is involved, but it's not only the customers listed in the lawsuit who may be eligible for restitution-- so if you think you've been misled by this company, the AG's office wants to hear from you.
To contact the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, click here or call 617-727-8400.
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