Help Me Get Rid of this Propane Submarine!
November 14, 2016 11:55 AM   Subscribe

How can I get the propane company motivated to remove the 1,000 lb. tank in my yard?

We recently switched from propane to natural gas. We've been renting the 1,000 lb. (i.e., HUGE) propane tank for two years since we bought this house. Now that we're completely switched over and I've emptied the tank, I need to have it removed. We have major dirt work scheduled for early spring, and the tank must be gone before it can begin.

Here's the rub: It's November, and the company rep said "We haven't even removed all the summer tanks yet. I'll put you on the spring removal list and we'll get to you some time next year." Are you kidding???

I have the machinery to move the tank myself if I have to. But I have nowhere to move it to that won't be either in a utility right-of-way or in the way of the dirt work.

How can I motivate this very customer-unfriendly company to pick up my tank in the next 30 days or so?
posted by summerstorm to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Contact the agency that regulates utilities in your state and file a complaint.
posted by goggie at 12:10 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd be tempted to send them a bill for weekly rent since the date you ended your prior contract.

I also might be tempted to tell them I'd sell the tank to the lowest bidder on some future date.

Neither of these are necessarily nice or legal and I don't think you should collect rent or sales money, these are just words of last resort that might motivate them if other methods aren't working.

Definitely read your prior contract to see if it says anything on the matter.
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:12 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

From Wikipedia:

"A bailor who leaves property for a fixed term may be deemed to have abandoned the property if it is not removed at the end of the term, or it may convert to an involuntary bailment for a reasonable time (e.g., abandoned property in a bank safe, eventually escheats to the state, and the treasurer may hold it for some period, awaiting the owner)."

Talk to a lawyer. Maybe pay the lawyer to write a letter. Both sides have responsibilities, even if you are an involuntary bailee, and you don't want to incur any liability for how you treat the bailor's valuable property.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:44 PM on November 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

What does the lease agreement say about removal at the end of the contract?
posted by Candleman at 1:45 PM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd definitely try writing to them using some of the ideas above. Just imagine if you're the company: you get a letter quoting a law like that and saying you will charge rent. It seems likely, especially if it's a smaller business, that upon receiving that, they'll just move you to the top of the list to avoid hassle, even it it's not necessarily legally correct.
posted by catatethebird at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's unclear if you explained to the rep that you have plans that require the tank being gone, if not start there. Even if you did, it might be worth calling back and seeing if you get someone else / asking to speak to a manager. Maybe try showing up at the office in person if it's reasonably close to you. It doesn't sound like you're at the "lawyer up" point quite yet unless there's more backstory.
posted by momus_window at 3:09 PM on November 14, 2016

let them know that you're going to call a scrapper in two weeks . They are worth a lot on $$$$$$s.
posted by HuronBob at 3:47 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Look at the rental agreement you signed two years ago. It probably gives the company enormous flexibility in when they pick it up. It also probably stipulates that they are the only ones that are allowed to move it.
posted by rockindata at 4:38 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Here's what worked for someone, summarized in 2008:

I used to have Amerigas as a Propane provider ... They wouldn't come and get a tank from my place either, until I dropped off a letter to the manager telling them they had 48 hours to come get their equipment and restore the location back to original condition or else I was going to consider it abandoned and would talk to my lawyer about recovering cost associated with abatement and fees. Next morning they had a crew out there to pick up their stuff. Show them photos taken of the area with something with the date on it like a newspaper so they know you have a recent photo of the area and that they cannot leave it tore to pieces and claim that is the condition it was in when they got there. Make sure to be on hand to step outside with a camera and snap a few when they get there as well. I didn't have a bit of problem with them afterward, and their guys did a great job cleaning up the area when they were done. Just frustrating as anything dealing with any Amerigas office that I have seen ...
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 4:54 PM on November 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you're in New England, MeMail me.
posted by bendy at 12:42 AM on November 15, 2016

Thanks for the great replies - I called my state utility regulators, who referred me to the attorney general's office. I was able to file a complaint with the attorney general and expect to hear from the company shortly. Thanks guys - you're the best!
posted by summerstorm at 6:20 PM on November 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Update: A week after filing my complaint with the attorney general's office, I received a copy of the letter they sent to the propane dealer giving him 14 days to respond to the complaint. The next day the pick-up guy was at my front door to scope out the pick-up job. Problem solved!
posted by summerstorm at 9:21 PM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

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