In case you haven’t heard, there is a new website that is uniting neighbors like never before. In the era of digital connectivity, Nextdoor.com is the modern-day equivalent of having an old-fashioned neighborhood block party where the conversation covers a variety of topics from landscape maintenance to asking for a contractor referral.  It’s hugely popular and a clear hit.

What is interesting is the effect this is having on vendors that frequently service your neighborhood. Good performing vendors are rewarded when a homeowner customer posts a good experience. This modern word-of-mouth advertising can be tremendously helpful to the contractor. Conversely, when the posted experience is negative, it can be oh so bad for business.

 

Comparing prices and experiences

In many neighborhoods, homeowners all have a need for the same service, as in the case of propane service. There is a misconception that your propane gas is a utility just like your electric service. This is not true. Homeowners are free to shop multiple propane delivery companies and do business with whoever they like.

This truth has been discussed recently on NextDoor.com and it’s being shared extensively. It’s sending some propane delivery companies into a panic. What was once the industry’s dirty secret is being exposed and power is returning to the consumer.  Now neighbors are comparing prices and propane services only to learn that their neighbors just a few yards away might have been overpaying  for years. “It’s infuriating and I feel like I have been taken advantage of for 10 years. When I called my national and publicly traded propane supplier to complain, they lowered my price, but that only made me angrier because I took that as an admission that I was being price gouged. I’m done with them.” Said Bob M. , a Northeast Florida Resident.

There is strength in numbers. In a recent Nextdoor post, a local resident posted with the title “Have you had enough of S—- Gas yet?”. To date, 75 residents have signed up to be notified of the outcome. The outrage is real.

 

What to do?

Do you homework. Type into Google the name of your gas company and follow with words like complaints, suits, and service. You may be shocked at what you see, and you will learn quickly the reputation your current provider has.

For a more specific look at how your provider is performing in your neighborhood, start a NextDoor.com post asking others what propane vendor they use and if they are happy. Don’t be afraid to post your price per gallon and ask others to do the same. When making your vendor decisions, be sure and factor in hazmat fees, delivery fees, fees to cancel and other nickel and dime tactics common in the industry. It’s important to note, not all companies charge these fees. (Ideal Gas is one of them)

 

Don’t be fooled by “introductory rates” or other short-term fixes. These are just ways to get you off the phone and get you to forget why you were upset. As time goes by, watch those rates climb. Honest companies quote you one rate and skip the gimmicks.

 

Put pressure on your gas provider

Gas companies know that it’s hard to justify why customers in the same neighborhood have large differences in prices. Get to know what others are paying and demand the lowest possible rate and the greatest possible propane service. Be prepared to fire your current provider if they don’t concede. They may tell you they own your tank and you cannot switch.  This may or may not be true.  For more information on how to claim ownership of your tank, be sure to see this recent blog post.

Putting in a little effort and willingness to stand your ground with your current provider will always yield results.