More Questions to Ask
Your Oil Company
Do you offer credit terms?
A full service company gives customers a standard 30 days to pay their fuel bill, whether in full or within the monthly payment format. Smaller operations stipulate C.O.D, leaving customers to plan deliveries around paychecks. The customer may also have to wait all day with cash in hand for the driver to show up.
Have you changed your corporate name in the last five years?
Some companies close their doors in the middle of winter because of financial problems, only to return again. To mask past failures, they will do business under a different name.
How concentrated are you in my area?
Be wary of an offer from an unknown oil company that is located too far away from your neighborhood. They probably won't be able to get to you if you need them in a hurry.
Who will be doing service on my heating equipment and who will be doing installations of new equipment?
Even when discount oil companies advertise service available, it's usually from subcontractors who are notoriously undependable. It's also preferable to have an installer from your oil company put in new equipment for you, versus a subcontractor who may not be as well versed in new oil heat technology.
What is your technician-to-customer ratio?
To ensure fast and efficient service, the best oil dealers employ more than the adequate number of technicians to service their customers' equipment.
What happens if I lose my heat in the middle of the night?
The best oil dealers provide around-the-clock service and are ready to help you in the event of an emergency situation. You won’t find that with a “COD” company.
Do I have to pay all at once?
You should expect your oil dealer to let you spread your heating oil payments over the course of the year, a more convenient option than cash-on-delivery, which requires you to wait at home to accept delivery.
Is your staff well trained?
The best oil dealers invest in extensive, ongoing training for their employees. This can eliminate callbacks for technicians and oil spills from drivers. It also ensures you get accurate information from office staff.
Do you have liability insurance?
If an oil truck slides on an icy driveway and rams into the side of your house, you want to be sure the oil company’s insurance pays for the repair.
Do you do background checks on your employees?
You shouldn’t have to worry about the trustworthiness of someone who is doing work in your home when you’re not around. But, you should be wary of unscrupulous companies who skirt the law to avoid things like HAZMAT licenses for their drivers.
Do you sell high quality product?
The best oil dealers purchase top-quality heating oil from carefully chosen, reliable fuel suppliers. This ensures your burner runs efficiently and free of soot, and reduces the need for service calls.
What if your truck breaks down?
Top-flight oil dealers employ their own mechanics to inspect vehicle fleets, ensuring trucks and vans are ready to respond throughout the winter. The U.S. Department of Transportation has regulatory standards that must be met; legitimate dealers will go above and beyond those standards.