CONSUMER AFFAIRS REMINDS HOMEOWNERS
VIGILANT WHEN PURCHASING HEATING OIL THIS WINTER
DCA Offers Tips to Ensure Consumers Get What They Pay For
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2003
Contact: Dina Improta (DCA) firstname.lastname@example.org
Marking the official beginning of the heating oil season,
the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today
reminded New Yorkers to be vigilant when purchasing home heating
oil and to take the necessary precautionary steps to ensure
they don't get short changed.
"Getting less than what you pay for can leave you feeling
a bit chilly," said DCA Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra.
"We inspected more than 1,400 home heating oil delivery
trucks operating in New York City last year to confirm that
the meter of each is registering accurately. Citywide compliance
remains high, but consumers should still take steps to protect
themselves like requesting to see a truck's certificate of
inspection, calling 311 to check a retailer's history, and
reading the fine print of any signed contract."
By law, DCA inspects home heating oil delivery truck meters
annually. During these routine inspections, the DCA confirms
that the truck's meter accurately registers how much oil it
pumps, placing an official seal on the meter. DCA also checks
for faulty air eliminator devices. Without an intact seal
on the meter, retailers could modify their meters, increasing
the chance of "short-weighing" their customers.
Also, if a truck has a faulty air eliminator device, a meter
might register more home heating oil than the consumer actually
Last year, the DCA conducted 1,406 heating oil delivery truck
inspections, condemned 114 trucks, and reported a citywide
compliance rate of 92%. Inspections are done at the agency's
test station in Brooklyn, or during routine surprise inspections
at truck refueling terminals throughout the City.
DCA offers the following tips to homeowners:
- Check the truck's meter for an official DCA seal and certificate
The official DCA seal and certificate of inspection certifies
that the truck has been inspected, and when.
- Check your receipt.
Law requires retailers to provide a receipt showing how much
oil you received and how much you paid per unit of oil.
- Check your oil tank gauge before and after filling.
Although some gauges may be inaccurate due to age, many can
give you a rough estimate of how much oil you have received.
- Get a written contract and read the fine print.
Always get a written contract that includes all costs, delivery
schedule, gallons promised, and any other details that have
been agreed upon between the provider and customer. Make sure
that the salesperson or manager of the distributor signs the
contract before payment. Also, before signing, check for hidden
costs, fees or minimum purchasing requirements that may appear
in the contract.
- Use a reputable supplier.
Call 311 to check a retailer's complaint history.
DCA enforces the City's Consumer Protection Law, Weights
and Measures Law, and other related laws at thousands of businesses
throughout New York City. Fostering a marketplace where consumers
are protected and businesses can thrive, DCA licenses more
than 60,000 businesses in 55 different categories citywide.
Through free community seminars, licensing forums, and other
informational materials, DCA educates consumers and businesses
alike about their rights and responsibilities.
To file a complaint, check on a retailer's complaint history,
or for more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at www.nyc.gov/consumers.