Local News

Apex Propane Customers Will Be Warm for Holidays

Posted December 23, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— It will be a warm Christmas after all for customers left without heat earlier this month by a local gas company. All-Star Gas Company of Apex has agreed to pay customers for the cost of getting gas from other companies.

WRAL first told you about the propane problems three weeks ago.

The Attorney General called a news conference to announce that he was suing All-Star Gas, but Consumer Protection Division attorneys reached an agreement with All Star while the attorney general was telling reporters he planned to sue.

The only thing All-Star's 3,000 customers in the state care about is getting paid for their troubles, and not being stranded without heat again.

Maria Houghton says All-Star Gas repeatedly promised her someone would be out to fill her tank, but no one ever showed up.

At least 25 other families complained to the state that All Star wasn't delivering propane on time. Tom Kasten told WRAL earlier this month that he couldn't get gas, even though he prepaid for it.

An All-Star spokeswoman says several drivers left the company to work for a competitor and All-Star had a hard time replacing them, but North Carolina Attorney General Mike Easley says the company sold the propane knowing it could not supply it.

Why didn't these customers just call up another company to get propane? It wasn't quite that simple. Under North Carolina law, says Easley, the supplier owns the tanks and must give waivers to allow other companies to fill them.

All-Star has now agreed to an automatic waiver if it can't fill an order, and has agreed to donate $5,000 to Heat for Homes plus another $5,000 to Warmth for Wake, as part of its settlement. The company says it regrets the inconvenience and has brought in employees from other states to help them catch up with orders. Now, everyone who complained apparently has heat either through All-Star or a new supplier.

Photographer:Terry Cantrell