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January 10. 2014 7:59PM

Fuller plays catch-up into Friday night


Cathy Thornton of Bedford, a Fred Fuller Oil customer, posted this sign after running out of oil. Although on automatic delivery, she said she called for eight days but could not get through to the company. She has found another carrier. (Courtesy)


Rank Zito of Bedford snapped this photo Friday when a Fred Fuller Oil truck made a delivery to his house. Courtesy 

The state hotline to ensure customers of Fred Fuller Oil & Propane get their promised heating fuel continued to field calls as night fell, but the company planned to complete deliveries Friday night to all those without.

The company was slowly making headway with customers with a big assist from a state hotline established four days ago to help customers facing empty tanks and cold homes, said Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti.

“We need to get this emergency to go away and he needs to get on top of his deliveries,” he said.

Boffetti said he still wants to try to resolve questions about pre-buy liabilities and his office will continue the review of what went wrong. A host of factors were in play, including a malfunctioning phone system at Fred Fuller and a winter cold snap.

The high priority cases — those without fuel or those in imminent danger of running out — were addressed Friday morning via the hotline Gov. Maggie Hassan rolled out Tuesday.

Perry Plummer, director of New Hampshire Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said Friday night that 1,750 individuals had called the hotline. Of that number, 140 people said they ran out of fuel.

The governor said the hotline, 227-0002, would remain open until she and Plummer are satisfied that fuel is being delivered to ensure customer health and safety.

Simon Leeming, an attorney for Fred Fuller Oil, said the company appreciated working collaboratively with the state to ensure customers were served. The company apologizes to the customers affected and, with delivery problems behind it, looks forward to continuing to serve customers.

On its website, Fred Fuller offered a customer update: “Service to our customers is a priority and we have made arrangements to resolve our delivery as quickly as possible through these record cold winter days. We have provided a trusted and reliable service for over 40 years. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during this time and assure you we will continue to provide the service you are accustomed to from Fred Fuller Oil & Propane.”

The company’s customer alert online said it was continuing to increase staff and hours to deal with delivery backlog and executing a plan to ensure customers are served.

Fred Fuller Oil & Propane, based in Hudson, has approximately 30,000 customers in New Hampshire.

Some longtime Fred Fuller customers reported timely service. Frank Zito of Bedford told the Union Leader that he checked his tank, saw that it was down to an eighth of a tank, and called Fred Fuller. Within an hour, a Fred Fuller truck arrived for a fill-up.

“They’ve always been good,” he said.

The governor and Attorney General’s Office also directs customers of Fred Fuller Oil & Propane, with non-emergency complaints, to consider filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau: doj.nh.gov/consumer/complaints/index.htm, or by calling a consumer hotline at (888) 468-4454.

dtuohy@unionleader.com


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