We go through quite a bit of propane each month during the Fall and Winter months. Our 500 gallon propane tank needs to be filled monthly and sometimes twice monthly if the weather is extraordinarily cold. Yesterday, the propane tank was filled and I noticed the price was 35% higher than last year’s price for the same time period. I looked at the Massachusetts Propane Price Survey and saw that the year over year average price was only 6% higher this year.
Because the propane company owns our tank and we are contracted with them to fill us at their market rates, there was little I could do. I called the company and someone there offered to lower the price by a few cents a gallon. This was nice, but it wasn’t really satisfactory to me, especially since they could continue to increase our rate with the only option being to reduce our usage (no, thanks).
Instead of taking to Yelp, NextDoor.com, or some other local website where people chat or give reviews to talk about my dissatisfaction, I did something else: I emailed a couple of company executives and the local office manager. I explained the situation and told them why I felt that I was being overcharged. I was polite but firm. I need them to deliver my propane in a timely fashion, and if I ever run out of propane during a storm, I need them to be willing to deliver my propane in an emergency situation. I can’t risk burning a bridge with a company I am going to continue doing business with for the foreseeable future.
This morning, I received a call from the manager who lowered the price considerably for this month’s and last month’s deliveries, and he assured me they would keep an eye on my account. He understood my position and we quickly remedied the situation. The price is a bit higher than I would like it to be, and it is probably a bit lower than they would like it. However, an email to the right people followed by a phone call was all it took to fix this situation.
Too often I see people posting criticism on forums and in blog comments about domain industry products, services, or customer service. Oftentimes, it seems like these people didn’t even contact the company first to try to get their issue resolved. Sometimes, the person did contact the company, but they may not have contacted the right person.
From my perspective, reaching out to the right person at a company is a critical step to take before publicly criticizing. Sure, sometimes a company and customer can’t find common ground on an issue and the person can share their experiences publicly. Most of the time when I have had an issue, a phone call to the right person can help resolve it.
The reason I shared my propane story is because I feel like it illustrates how things work when something is handled professionally, and not simply because a company fears a negative review on my blog. Like some domain industry companies, this propane companies has quite a few negative reviews and public complaints. As far as I am concerned, they are good in my book.