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Q: What is SmartPay Plus?

A: This program combines the best of two worlds: SmartPay lets you spread  your fuel costs out over 12 months to make your bills easier to manage; SmartPay Plus places a price cap on how high your fuel price can rise, and because it includes downside protection, anytime our daily market price drops between September 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019, you’ll pay the lower price, guaranteed. Our suppliers charge us a fee for this price “insurance,” a fee we pass along to our customers who choose this option. We do not make any money on this fee; the amount we charge you is our cost. 

Q: What are you recommending to your customers this year?

A: Your fuel decisions should be based on your personal situation, and whichever option makes you feel most comfortable. Many people like the SmartPay Plus program because it gives them peace of mind. No matter which option you choose, you should definitely enroll in SmartPay because it makes your fuel bills easier to manage by spreading them evenly over 12 months.


Q: Should I enroll in the SmartPay Plus program now or wait?

A: If you decide that a cap provides the kind of protection that is right for you, there really is no reason to wait. If prices rise higher than they are today, you are protected. And if prices fall, you get the benefit of the lower price.

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Q: Is there a deadline to sign up?

A: There is no specific deadline date for enrollment. However, there is a limit on how long we can accept enrollments. It is based on supply and demand. We only buy a limited supply of price-protected fuel, and once this fuel is spoken for, we will no longer accept enrollments into the program.

Q: Am I guaranteed to save money with SmartPay Plus?

A: Not necessarily. If prices rise above your cap and stay there, this program could pay off for you in a big way. If prices go down, you benefit as well because you'll pay our daily market price, which will reflect this drop. But if prices remain stable or only go above the cap briefly, you won't recover your "cap fee." Most people who choose SmartPay Plus select this option because it gives them peace of mind. They don't have to worry if the fuel markets become volatile.

Q: What do you think will happen with fuel prices this year?

A: That's anyone's guess. As much as we wish we could predict whether prices will go up or down, it's just not possible.

Q: How do you determine what the price cap will be?

A: Planning a price protection program is a year-round effort. We analyze trends, study the commodities market daily and do a lot of research so we can decide when the time is right to make our bulk fuel purchases. Only in this way we can structure a reliable workable program, one you can count on for protection from unpredictable spikes in the price of fuel. It takes time and money to structure a price cap program correctly, and not all heating fuel dealers have the resources to do it, especially in the current market. The cap price itself depends on the wholesale price we pay, plus an allowance to cover our costs, such as insurance, vehicle maintenance and employee wages.

Q. Is the price cap the amount that I will pay all year?

A: No. Your cap price is the highest price you'll pay all year. The actual price you'll pay is our daily market price on the day you receive your deliveries. If prices rise dramatically, you don't have to worry because your fuel price will never rise above your cap price. Because SmartPay Plus also includes downside protection, if prices go down, your price will drop as well.

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Q: Why is there a fee for the price cap?


A: As you might expect, our suppliers charge us a premium for offering the "insurance" that allows us to keep your fuel price from skyrocketing and also give us the flexibility to lower your price should market prices fall. We pass this expense along to our customers who select SmartPay Plus. We do not make any money on this fee - and we also don't cut corners like some companies do. We protect your fuel the right way.


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Q: Why has the cost of a price cap increased?


 A: In the past, there was much less volatility in the fuel markets and the cost of a price cap program was quite low. That's why we offered it to our customers at no cost. However, now that the energy markets have become so unpredictable and volatile, the cost of price cap "insurance" has become much greater.


Q: Are all fuel company price protection plans similar?


A: There are only two kinds of price protection: those that fix your price and those that set a ceiling on your price and also allow your price to drop if market prices go down. However, different companies back up their programs in different ways. When you choose to purchase price protection, you are making a bet not only on what will happen to prices, but on the integrity and carefulness of your fuel company. As a local, employee-owned company business for over 100 years, we are cautious about price protection, which means that we have taken all necessary steps to protect your price and to follow through on our promises.

Q. I see some companies say they have "free" price caps. How can they do that?

A: The fact is they can't. What these companies do is build the cost of the cap into their price per gallon, either that or they don't purchase enough price "insurance" from their suppliers. As a result, when prices drop, they can't lower their price to keep up. In some years, companies who claimed to have price protection were charging as much as 60 cents per gallon more than we were. If you choose SmartPay Plus, you can rest assured that your price is protected, no matter what happens with the fuel markets.


Q. How do you figure my monthly SmartPay payments?

A: To calculate your monthly SmartPay payments, we use your fuel delivery record from last year to estimate the number of gallons you will LIKELY use during the next heating season. We multiply the number of gallons by an estimated price per gallon. This amount is spread out into 12 equal monthly payments. And there is a bonus, our SmartPay customers get a $.10 per gallon discount compared to our regular will call price per gallon.  Also, our Smart pay customers that sign up for EFT (electronic funds transfer) receive an additional $.03 per gallon discount. 


Q: Can my monthly SmartPay payment amount change?

A: Yes, it can change. If our estimate of your fuel costs is too high or too low, we will make an adjustment to reflect current prices and your actual fuel use. If you have a cap, your price cannot rise above your cap price, so you would be protected from a dramatic increase. If prices fall and stay lower, your monthly payment would be adjusted downward. If you are not enrolled in SmartPay Plus, and you are paying the daily market price, your monthly payment could theoretically increase or decrease.

Q: Can I still pre-buy my fuel?

A: Yes, We are still offering you the option to pre-buy your fuel this year, but we are seeing a lot of interest in SmartPay Plus. We think this is because of what happened in the past, when heating oil prices peaked in the summer, and then dropped during the heating season. Anyone who pre-bought their fuel wasn't able to take advantage of this drop. We felt bad about this, so we are encouraging our customers to explore all of their options.

Some companies have actually shut their doors and gone bankrupt with their customers' money after offering some very attractive pre-buy rates. So, who you choose to protect your oil price is probably even more important than what program or price you choose.


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Customer Testimonials
  • Your budget plan program has given me peace of mind.  Good to know I won’t be stuck with giant heating bills in the middle of winter.
    --Eve O.
  • I’m really pleased with how well the price protection has worked out for me this year.  I saved hundreds of dollars when the price of oil went up.  I just wanted to let you know that I’m really glad I signed up.
    --Barbara B.

HB McClure Company
TEL: (717) 232-4328