Prime to Disrupt

Adavantage Business Magazine Cover100 years in the making- the propane gas industry is about to change

Thousands of homeowners and businesses rely on a steady supply of propane to do everything from taking a hot shower in their home to cooking a pizza at their favorite restaurant. What started as an industry with hundreds of suppliers in Florida has over time consolidated to mostly large players that are obligated to deliver results for shareholders. That pressure hasn’t always translated to good customer service and has even led to documented questionable business practices.

For residential customers, propane tanks are often installed for free with the agreement that the tank belongs to the propane provider. In exchange the customer pays a rental fee. On the surface this sounds like a fair arrangement, but look deeper and the situation is far less clear.

Who owns the tank?

Since tanks have a long useful life, homes with tanks are bought and sold, and there have been multiple mergers and acquisitions in the propane industry. Years later it can be unclear on who actually owns the tank. A home purchaser assumes they own the tank on the property, but the propane supplier may disagree. It’s unclear the right answer because the lease agreement paperwork may have  been lost many mergers ago. Most homeowners blindly keep paying a rental fee because they are sent a bill.  To be clear, a bill does not confer a responsibility to pay a rental fee.  If the proof of tank ownership cannot be produced by the propane provider, a homeowner is entitled to free themselves of the bondage of the arrangement the propane company unilaterally assumes to have.

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