Fuel distributor SOL, which is set to be bought by Canadian-based marketer, has until December 17, to reimburse all customers who paid more for their 100-pound Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders just over a year ago, the Fair Trading Commission has ruled.
But the price difference customers expect to be refunded could amount to 50 cents per bottle.
The FTC had instructed SOL to reimburse the customers after it carried out an investigation, which it launched last September after it received two consumer queries relating to the purchase of SOL 100 lb LPG cylinders, the retail watchdog said in a statement Thursday.
“In each circumstance, the consumers alleged that they made a prepayment for LPG cylinders prior to a legislated price increase. However, their cylinders were delivered after the price increases came into effect. The consumers subsequently discovered that they were charged the difference between the price they paid and the increased price, as per SOL’s Terms and Conditions of Service which stated: ‘Prices billed, will be prices prevailing on the date of delivery’,” the FTC said in its statement.
After completing its investigation, the regulator ruled that the clause “may be an unfair contract term and/or misleading and/or deceptive conduct, which is contrary to the Consumer Protection Act, CAP. 326D”, the FTC added.
As a result, SOL was directed to remove the said contract term, which it has since complied with, the FTC said.
“Furthermore, the Commission has directed SOL to reimburse all customers who would have prepaid for an LPG gas cylinder but were asked to pay an increase in price because of the above-mentioned contract term. This process is to be completed on or before December 17, 2018,” the FTC added.
The FTC did not specify the change in gas price which prompted the investigation, or how many customers were likely to be reimbursed.
But checks revealed that during the month of September 2017, the price for a 100 lb gas cylinder averaged between $155.31 and $155.89, which means affected customers could expect a refund of just over 50 cents.
The Sir Kyffin Simpson-owned SOL Group, the largest independent fuel retailer in the region, is currently being sold to Canadian-based fuel and petroleum products marketer, Parkland Fuel Corporation, in a deal worth some $2.4 billion.
The deal, which officials are hoping to complete at the end of this year, will see Parkland owning 75 per cent of the SOL operations.
At the end of November last year, the FTC had denied an application by the SOL Group to buy the state-owned Barbados National Terminal Company Ltd (BNTCL) in light of the terms of the agreement at the time, saying that it would only approve the transaction if certain issues were addressed. (MM)