Propane Central Driver Praised for ‘Best Customer Service Possible’

Delivering propane, collecting outstanding payments, gardening and befriending a quartet of felines.

That’s all in a day’s work for Propane Central driver Ben Harville.

In early January, Harville was directed to visit a customer who had an outstanding balance of $124 and either collect payment or pick up her propane tank and close her account.

“When I arrived at her home, I went up to her door and told her the computer automatically generated this notice to collect her tank because of a back balance of $124,” said Harville, who was been with Propane Central for four years and is training to become a service technician. “I told her that she’s always been a good customer and that we definitely didn’t want to lose her. With the balance due being such a small amount I was sure there was just a simple misunderstanding.”

The customer informed Harville she had been ill with Covid and forgot to pay her bill. While the woman was on the phone paying her bill, Harville decided to inspect her 320-gallon tank and noticed some tree branches had become overgrown and were brushing up against the tank.

“I cut some tree limbs that were over the tank so they wouldn’t be scrapping and ruining the paint,” Harville said. “It was pretty funny because [the customer] has several cats and while I was outside they came over to see what was going on so I ended up playing with the cats for a minute.”

While on the phone with a Propane Central customer service representative paying her balance, the customer made a point to praise Harville for providing the “best customer service possible.”

“I was honestly kind of surprised to hear that because I don’t think I gave her any extra service that I haven’t given any other customer,” he said.

Harville’s supervisor, Propane Central General Manager Eric Payne, was quick to offer his own accolades after learning how the “difficult situation” was handled.

“There really isn’t a tougher job that our staff has to deal with than picking up a customer tank when they owe us money,” Payne said. “In this instance, Ben was able to turn a really uncomfortable interaction with a customer into a positive. Ben’s exceptional customer service obviously made a tremendous impression for her to feel compelled to bring up that he has the ‘best customer service possible’ when she was calling to take care of the balance she had.”

Harville said it was “very nice” for both the customer and Payne to compliment him, but he didn’t know if it was “justified.”

“I feel like I was just doing my job,” Harville said. “I’ve been in situations like this where I get a letter saying I need to pay something and most of the time it’s just simply an oversight. It doesn’t mean they are bad people or bad debt, it’s just that life happens and you have a lot of stuff on your mind and maybe you forget.

“The customer ultimately pays my paycheck and feeds my kids so I’m going to do everything I can to keep every single one of them.”

Story by Mike Gilbert, Marketing Communications Coordinator