Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wanted: Home Heating Oil Supplier

This post is for anyone in Montague or surrounding areas who (a) works for a local oil supplier, (b) knows someone who does or (c) knows a good, reliable company.

When we moved to Montague, we inherited a heating oil supply arrangement with Ultramar HomEnergy, along with an old oil furnace, an even older tank and a rented water heater. So far, so good.

Things weren't too bad at first; we ran out of oil occasionally in the first three years or so. Ultramar didn't really start to get interesting until about two years ago. Firstly, in accordance with the new fuel handling codes in Ontario, they red-tagged our old, rusty oil tank. No more deliveries until it was replaced. That was fine; we ordered the new tank. Would it be delivered before we ran out of oil? Sure, they said. No problem. Every couple of weeks we'd call for an update. Still no tank after about 8 weeks. Sure enough, the new tank didn't arrive until we ran out of oil - it was minus 25, early January, and we were in a situation where it was illegal for them to supply us with oil. My daughter was six months old at the time. We'll gloss over how we got over that situation.

Finally New Tank Day dawned. They brought the tank. They installed it. They couldn't get the old one out of the basement. They left. The next day, they came back with a circular saw and sawed the old tank in half. They left again. The old tank stayed (in two halves) in the basement, for around another four weeks. Any idea what a severed oil tank smells like? Yummy. It would have stayed there for ever but for some more insistent phoning on our part.

Last season, there were no red tags; they just managed to let us run out of oil at least twice, maybe three times.

This August, the furnace was red-tagged. We ordered a new furnace and for good measure a new water heater. We paid in cash before the units were even delivered. Installation was smooth this time around. For a while everything was rosy. Then the hot water started coming out of the faucet at 170 degrees Fahrenheit. They came and replaced the aquastat on the brand new water heater.

After all the effort of delivering a new furnace, it seemed Ultramar were exhausted, and couldn't manage to deliver oil as well. November 28, we ran out of oil again. This time, the call centre operator promised to put us on a 28 day delivery schedule. Guess when our last delivery was? That's right. In the Ultramar calendar, late January is only 28 days after 28 November. The oil tank is again reading empty tonight, meaning that there's a high chance we'll run out before the next delivery. We called; they don't do oil delivery on the weekend. Only if you actually have no heat. Ultramar would rather you ran out of oil and froze for a while before they want to actually bring fuel.

And also tonight, the hot water is again at 170 degrees. Ultramar doesn't do that on weekends either. "Just dilute it," is the advice, or "Power it off". Yep, cos in a house with two young children, scalding hot water in the faucets is just what you want. To say nothing of what it does to appliances, pipes, etc.

So..... we need a reliable, friendly, helpful oil supplier in the Lanark county area. We need a company that actually does what they say. We need a company that will assume the warranty on the new appliances, since Ultramar cunningly voids their warranties if you change suppliers. And we need a company that won't mind collecting the best part of $4,000 each year. We spent nearly $12,000 with Ultramar in the last 12 months and it's given us nothing but headaches.

All offers, tips or help will be gratefully received.