Customers left in the cold after Maritime Fuels files for bankruptcy

The Nova Scotia government is warning residents to stop payments to a home heating fuel company after the business filed for bankruptcy late last week.

In a release, the officials advised the public to call their bank or their credit card company to stop the payments.

One of those customers, Brandi Kozeuch, was sending payments to the company, which allegedly continued to take payments since her last delivery in late July.

She now only has a quarter of a tank left.

“I grieved it, a lot. It’s a lot for any person. I think for our family, it worked out to be $714,” she said in an interview with Global News.

“You (Maritime Fuels) continued to take my money, knowing full well you wouldn’t provide me with that service.”

Kozeuch has been looking for a new fuel provider in the meantime. Currently, she’s hopeful to get her money back, but isn’t confident.

According to Ed McHugh, a business professor at the Nova Scotia Community College, pre-authorized payments for a company in the red can be a risky game for organizations.

McHugh said that it’s “strange” for a company the size of Maritime Fuels to go bankrupt, saying in many cases, companies remain hopeful that they can pay their bills beyond the 30 days past due, which snowball for companies.

“This is rare,” he said, speaking in the college’s Ivany Campus.

“I can’t even think of the last time a major supplier like this went under. It’s strange for a company in this size, in this business, to go bankrupt.”

McHugh said that the rising popularity of heat pumps may have been one of the factors, noting that the federal government’s push towards the energy-efficient systems may have been a cause.

Less than a month ago, the federal government announced it would pause applying carbon pricing to home heating oil deliveries for three years in a bid to accelerate Canadians’ switch to more environmentally friendly heat pumps.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will be rolling out incentives to Atlantic Canada households that are more reliant on heating oil, including enhanced payments and grants to lower the cost of installing a heat pump.

Global News reached out to Maritime Fuels and its trustee PwC, for comment but did not receive a response by publication.

With files from Sean Boynton


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