Legal Question in Consumer Law in Virginia

Propane service and tank rental

A year ago, I signed a contract with a local propane gas supplier to deliver liquid propane in an above-ground tank. The tank belongs to the propane company. The contract has a minimum purchase of 200 pounds of propane per year, and a monthly tank rental, waived if I meet the minimum purchase. Gas is delivered on an automatic delivery basis.

We did not use the minimum amount of propane, so they billed me for the tank rental. Once I realized that they weren't going to waive the rental fee, and that they would continue charging it since I'm not likely to use enough propane to have it waived, I asked them to just pick up the tank; I'll pay them the rental fee and be done with them.

The problem is, there's also a clause in the contract that says the contents of the tank become their property when they pick the tank up. They won't refund me for the value of the propane (which I paid for) when they take the tank.

Is this legal? I don't dispute that I signed the contract, but I do have a problem with the company stealing propane that I paid for. I've never in my life dealt with a company that wants to take back the product you purchased from them if you decide to cease doing business with them!

Do I have any recourse?

Asked on 6/22/05, 10:08 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Michael Hendrickson Law Office Michael E. Hendrickson

Re: Propane service and tank rental

If it's in the contract which you signed and presumably agreed to, "it's legal" and the company could not be fairly characterized as "stealing" what the contract has given them the right to reclaim.

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Answered on 6/23/05, 1:44 am

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