When Should You Switch Propane Suppliers?

On average, the cost of heating a home makes up about 42% of total utility costs. That’s a lot of money going toward heating your home. If you rely on propane for heat, you know firsthand the importance of working with a reputable, cost-effective propane supplier. After all, your family’s comfort depends on their reasonable rates and reliable customer service.

Unfortunately, some propane suppliers fall short in one — or both — of these areas. Maybe you’ve had a recent experience that’s left you contemplating a new supplier. But before you make the switch, there are a few things to keep in mind.

When Do I Know It’s Time to Switch Propane Suppliers?

If you’ve ever had a bad experience with a service provider, you’ve probably found yourself muttering under your breath, threatening to cut and run to a new company. Maybe they didn’t deliver a product or service. Perhaps they were late. Or, they might have raised their rates without telling you in advance.
We’ve all been there. Is that a justifiable reason to switch providers? Maybe. But the best way to determine if it’s time to make the leap is to ask yourself three questions.

1. Why Do I Want to Switch?

One delayed delivery probably isn’t a good reason to give up on a supplier — everyone has setbacks such as traffic or an emergency once in a while — but if the company has a habit of showing up late or rescheduling at the last minute, it might be time to look into other options.
Sometimes, customers contemplate switching because their supplier increased their rates. A price hike can be frustrating, but if it was only a few cents or it’s industry-wide, it may not be worth the hassle of finding a new supplier. On the other hand, if you believe the company raised your rates unfairly or they’re beyond what you can afford each month, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere.

2. What Am I Looking For?

Once you’ve identified the reason you want to change suppliers, ask yourself what you’re hoping will improve if you sign on with a new company. Are you looking for a provider that’s more responsive to your inquiries? Do you want someone who works around your unconventional schedule? Are you hoping to lower your monthly bills? Answering these questions can help you narrow down your search for a supplier who meets your specific needs.

3. When Does My Current Contract End?

If you’re nearing the end of your service contract and you’re unhappy with your current supplier, it’s an ideal time to research other options. But if you’ve just started a new contract or you’re in the middle of one, the early termination fees and other costs associated with jumping ship may not be worth the money you’ll save. Do the math, and decide if it’s financially feasible to make the change.

Benefits of Switching Suppliers

Switching propane suppliers can come with a host of advantages, including the following:

1. Upgraded Services

Look for a supplier who also provides comprehensive maintenance services for propane heaters and appliances. It may add a few dollars to your service agreement, but you’ll likely save money down the road if you need repairs. Even if you don’t anticipate needing upkeep on your equipment, it’s a smart idea to sign on with a company that offers it, because this can be a sign of an experienced provider who knows what they’re doing when it comes to propane.

2. Discounted or Free Stuff

Some companies may offer discounts on a new tank or waive installation charges to help convince you to join with them. This situation is a win-win, because it means more of your money stays in your pocket, and your equipment gets upgraded too! Just remember: It never hurts to ask for free stuff, but promotions and limited-time offers come and go. When a company dangles a discount or freebies to sign up, always make sure to ask how long the promotion lasts, so you won’t miss your window of opportunity.

3. Lower Utility Bills

Depending on the supplier you select, your service rates may decrease. Over time, you’ll see lower utility bills that means an increase in savings for you. The amount you save will depend on your supplier’s rates, as well as costs associated with tank rental and maintenance where applicable.

4. Trained Technicians

When you switch to Foster Fuels, you’ll work with our highly trained technicians every time. What does “highly trained” mean to us? It means our employees are always training to become better at their jobs, following federal and state-specific guidelines for the safe handling of equipment and delivery of fuel. It also means our company employs a Safety Director to oversee technician training and ensure your fuel deliveries are safe and secure every time. At Foster Fuels, exceptional customer service is aways a priority.

Potential Challenges in Switching Suppliers

There are some financial — and practical — benefits to choosing a new propane supplier. However, there can be some roadblocks, too.

1. Tank Removal

If you own your propane tank, switching suppliers is relatively straightforward. But if you are renting a propane tank from one supplier and decide to go with someone else, your previous supplier may require you to give the tank back or purchase it from them. Either way, expect to pay tank pickup and pump-out fees.

2. Closeout Costs

In addition to paying for tank pickup, your old provider may require you to pay a fee to close out your contract, especially if you make the switch before your current contract expires. In some cases, suppliers may require a customer who is leaving to purchase their tank, rather than pay to have it pumped out and removed.

3. Startup Fees

When you switch to a new propane supplier, they may charge an installation fee — if they’re installing a new tank — as well as delivery fees. If you’re renting a tank, you’ll immediately begin paying rental fees as well. Of course, these are different for each company, and, as we mentioned above, sometimes get waived as part of a promotion.

Is It Worth It?

How do you decide if it’s worthwhile to switch?

Only you can know for sure, but our advice is this: If you are unhappy with the bills you pay and the customer service you receive, it’s time to research new providers. Compare prices and services. Find out what it will cost to start working with someone else. Then, move on to a new company that can offer more comprehensive services at an affordable price.

An experienced propane supplier can also help you navigate the switch. They can coordinate the removal of an old tank with the installation of the new one to ensure uninterrupted service. They can guide you through the maze of fees and logistics and make sure you end up comfortable and happy with your choice.

When you do your homework, you’ll find working with a small family-owned and -operated company like Foster Fuels provides you with the experience and customer service you need to make your experience positive. From our headquarters in Campbell County, Va., we deliver fuel nationwide. If you’re ready to make the switch to a small-town supplier with big-city reach, contact Foster Fuels today!

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