Written on: December 15, 2021 by ICM
According to reports, HOP Energy has been accused of home heating oil price gauging.
Ryan Melville, Woodstock, CT, filed a class action complaint on Dec. 6 in U.S. District Court in White Plains, NY. It demands HOP Energy pay at least $25 million to customers in the Northeast and alleges HOP Energy has exploited customers’ lack of knowledge and decision-making about the price of home heating oil.
Melville was a customer of HOP subsidiary DDLC Energy in 2018. The complaint asserts, “HOP Energy’s improper conduct is designed to take advantage of consumers’ … lack of knowledge of the heating oil market,” enabling the company to deploy “underhanded tactics to maximize its own profits at unsuspecting consumers’ expense.”
Melville alleges that according to his contract, the price for heating oil was capped for the first year, or the first 1,000 gallons of fuel, then he would be charged the promotional prevailing retail price. But after a year, Melville said he was notified that his account would automatically default to a variable price plan. For 18 months, until Melville canceled the service, the price of his oil was higher than prevailing rates, he alleges, as compared to state and federal benchmarks. The complaint states Melville paid 42% to 46% more than the benchmarks, and up to 60% more during the winter season.
The lawsuit was filed as a class action on behalf of HOP customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.