Vermont Statutes Title 9. Commerce and Trade, § 2461e. Requirements for guaranteed price plans and prepaid contracts

(a)(1) Contract and solicitation requirements.  A contract for the retail sale of home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas that offers a guaranteed price plan, including a fixed price contract, a prepaid contract, a cost-plus contract, and any other similar terms, shall be in writing, and the terms and conditions of such price plans shall be disclosed.  Such disclosure shall be in plain language and shall immediately follow the language concerning the price or service that could be affected and shall be printed in no less than 12-point boldface type of uniform font.  A solicitation for the retail sale of home heating oil or liquefied petroleum gas that offers a guaranteed price plan that could become a contract upon a response from a consumer, including a fixed price contract, a prepaid contract, a cost-plus contract, and any other similar terms, shall be in writing, and the terms and conditions of such offer shall be disclosed in plain language.

(2) Subdivision (1) of this subsection does not preclude a first come, first served offering.

(b)(1) Security for prepaid contracts.  No home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas dealer shall enter into a prepaid contract to provide home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas to a consumer unless that dealer has, within seven days of the acceptance of the contract, obtained and maintained any one of the following:

(A) Futures contract.  Heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas contracts or other similar commitments that allow the dealer to purchase, at a fixed price, heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas in an amount not less than 75 percent of the maximum number of gallons that the dealer is committed to deliver pursuant to all prepaid contracts entered into by the dealer;

(B) Surety bond.  A surety bond in an amount not less than 50 percent of the total amount of funds paid to the dealer by consumers pursuant to prepaid heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas contracts;  or

(C) Line of credit, letter of credit, cash.  A line of credit from an FDIC-insured institution, letter of credit from an FDIC-insured institution, cash in an FDIC-insured account or a functionally equivalent account, or combination thereof in an amount that represents 100 percent of the cost to the dealer of the maximum number of gallons that the dealer is committed to deliver pursuant to all prepaid contracts entered into by the dealer.  The cost shall be calculated at the time the contracts are entered into.

(2) A dealer shall maintain the amount of futures contracts required by this subsection for the period of time for which the prepaid home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas contracts are effective, except that the amount of the futures contracts may be reduced during such period of time to reflect any amount of home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas already delivered to and paid for by the consumer.

(3) Subdivision (1) of this subsection shall not apply to budget plans under which consumers pay 1/12 th of their yearly heating fuel cost each month.

(c)(1) Disclosure;  additional contract requirements.  A prepaid home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas contract shall indicate:

(A) the amount of funds paid by the consumer to the dealer under the contract;

(B) the maximum number of gallons of home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas committed by the dealer for delivery to the consumer pursuant to the contract;  and

(C) that the performance of the prepaid contract is secured by one of the three options described in subsection (b) of this section.

(2) Reimbursement default provision.  Any contract described in this subsection shall provide that the contract price of any undelivered home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas owed to the consumer under the contract at the end date of the contract shall be reimbursed to the consumer not later than 30 days after the end date of the contract, unless the parties to the contract agree otherwise.

(d) Private right of action under Consumer Protection Act.  In addition to the remedies set forth in sections 2458 and 2461 of this title, a home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas dealer may bring an action against its heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas suppliers for failing to honor its contract with the home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas dealer.  The home heating oil, kerosene, or liquefied petroleum gas dealer bringing the action may recover all remedies available to consumers under subsection 2461(b) of this title.


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