Victims are continuing to come forward after a local fuel oil supplier suddenly closed its doors, leaving its pre-paid customers high and dry.
Now a new class of customers is emerging, claiming to be out tens of thousands of dollars.
Farmers in Mid-Michigan say Miles Petroleum owes them $10,000.
Earlier this week we reported on individuals who had purchased fuel oil from Miles Petroleum. Those customers prepaid more than $1,700 to participate in what the company called the "pre-buy price protection program."
Two people have personally reached out to TV5, appealing to us to Ask the Tough Questions of the Merrill-based company. But when we knocked on the door no one answered, and all that was left was a sign that said closed for business. So we looked around town and after some investigating, we found company president Barry Marlow.
"I'm sorry that they had to find out from a letter in the mail. And I wasn't able to give them anymore warning than we we're able to give them. Other than that I really can't say anything else, unfortunately," Marlow said.
We asked Marlow about his customers' money. He said it was uncertain if anyone who pre-paid would see their money again.
"I can't make any promises that I don't know. I don't know how things are going to shake out at this point," Marlow said.
Marlow calls his customers his friends. He says he's fallen on hard economic times. He said he never imagined he'd be in this position where his family would be struggling to make ends meet. And he feels awful that many of his customers are, at least for now, out more than $1,700.
"My wife and I are devastated with how everything came down," Marlow said.
Now the Michigan Attorney General's office is weighing in on the situation after releasing this statement by Joy Yearout, director of communications for AG Bill Schuette:
We have received four consumer complaints, all filed this week, against Miles Petroleum. Please encourage other affected consumers to file complaints with us, and we will send them through our consumer mediation process. We also recommend consumers review our Consumer Alert on Sudden Business Closure for more tips: http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-17337_20942-186040--,00.html
Additionally, while most police agencies may consider matters such as this a civil in nature, a consumer who reasonably believes that the business accepted payment for future service, while knowing that the future service would not be provided, may wish to contact their local police department.
Consumers may also wish to contact a private attorney. If the company has not filed for bankruptcy, consumers can file a civil action against them for failing to provide promised goods/services and request a judgment in the amount of their payment.
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