Hocon CEO Replies

This morning, “06880” posted a story about a customer’s experience with Hocon Gas. President David Gable replies:

I was just sent a copy of your post regarding my company’s billing practices. I realize you have been held in high esteem by many of your fellow Westport residents but as a person representing facts to the general public, I feel you have a responsibility to check your facts before you publish them, and you haven’t, at least in this case.

The person lodging the complaint you posted didn’t let you know the entire story. A call was made to our office late on 7/13/2022 for a reported gas leak. We consider that a very serious issue and strive to respond within half an hour, since one never knows the severity of the leak and if it’s an actual threat to public safety.

In fact the service technician was pulled off another call (not an emergency) and immediately sent to investigate. He pressure tested the system, inspected the appliance in question and found no leak. He then returned (now on overtime) to complete the call he had been servicing.

This call came in at the end of the day. Our service billing person, who was recently hired, billed the service call and an after-hours emergency charge as though this had been a call in the middle of the night, which it wasn’t. The customer in question emailed me complaining of the charge. I looked into it and found she was right and should not have been charged the after-hours charge, which was credited to her account 5 days later.

The net cost of that call with taxes was $268. I don’t consider that unreasonable. I looked at a number of different industry websites, and found Sears, for example, posting a range of service charges for an oven repair of between $230-$320, for a call that’s not even an emergency. I couldn’t find another company with posted prices for service on their website, but I wasn’t going to make it my life’s work either.

Hocon’s Norwalk office.

Further, the claimant said she wished she had called the fire department because they check out gas leaks for free. (The fire departments then call us to take care of the problem.) Fire departments are compensated by the taxes we pay to the towns in which we reside. We as a company have been billed many thousands of dollars by fire departments for gas leaks, even calls we have responded to in a mutual aid capacity for consumers of propane not serviced by us but another company lacking the expertise, ability or interest in dealing with the problem.

In closing, I would like to remind you that you posted our trademarked logo without permission to do so, and you included my email address in your post. I consider that an unbelievable dereliction of your responsibility. You should be ashamed of yourself.

David Gable
President
Hocon Gas

Editor’s note: Informational (or “editorial”) uses of a trademark do not require permission from its owner. Uses that inform, educate or express opinions are protected under the First Amendment. Illegal use of a trademark would be an attempt to deceive a customer into believing one company was another.

42 responses to “Hocon CEO Replies

  1. Lawrence Zlatkin

    Lots of scams in this world, and more each and every day. But, this is not one of them. Maybe there are more facts, but the charge and responsiveness of the target company support their counter claim of professionalism and customer service. It’s not a big oil company after all— try to see if Optimum or Eversource would respond so quickly to a request for help.

    • The fundamental issue is that now that Dan has created a tax shelter and changed this blog to a not-for-profit, he needs to be held to a higher journalistic standard. Dan should have obtained Hocon’s side of the story BEFORE publishing one side. This is shoddy journalism, plain and simple.

      • Absolute nonsense, Rich.
        First, his standards are to share what folks in town think about stuff and, second, 501c3 status comes with no publishing “standards” attached.

  2. Mr. Gamble needs a crash course in both customer relations and trademark law. He might also read the First Amendment. On the trademark issue, you didn’t violate anything because the way you used it, it is a common use and in the public domain. Fortunately I am not a Hocon customer and never will be.

  3. Mr. Gable solidly acquitted himself and his company. Right up to the final paragraph.

  4. He’s upset. But you have nothing to be ashamed of. You didn’t share his personal email address. You shared his business email address. EVERY CEO should be prepared to share their business email address at all times. Every customer deserves to be able to reach out to the person in charge.

  5. Alicia K Kronick

    Thank you Dan for writing and publishing this story!
    I think you pushed a few buttons but honestly, I agree with the customer here.

    • Alicia, Your father-in- law was at my parents’ wedding in 1946, if you married a son of Tom Kronick.

      • Alicia K Kronick

        My FIL was Stanley (now deceased) from Fairfield and Westport) but Ive heard of Tommy Kronick. I think he’s somewhere in the family tree’s branches.

        • It’s interesting that you called him Tommy because that’s how we knew him. I didn’t want to write “Tommy” and wrote Tom instead to be more formal. But he was Tommy Kronick to everyone. I knew of your FIL, but never met him.

  6. Mr. Gable, I can stand in front of your building and take as many pictures as I want! I can stand on the street and take a picture of the FBI building too! Then I can post both pictures around the world. Would you like me to send you pictures of me in front of the White House? Please apologize to Dan Woog.

  7. What a gas bag.

    • We’ll… “gas bag runs gas company.” He should have that on his logo.

      • I hate when my phone writes “we’ll” when I write “well.” I hope I’m not writing too much and being a gas bag? One gas bag is enough! By the way, this letter he wrote and asked to be published is an advertising disaster for his company!

  8. Is it just me, or is he intentionally ignoring the entire point of the original posting?

    The point is that he should be transparent with his fees. He was able to easily look up all sorts of fees on all sorts of websites but he will not allow his customers the same convenience. Why? So he can continue charging whatever he wants in hopes his customers will pay it.

    The rest of the letter is just noise and I’m sure he knows it.

  9. Joseph Thanhauser

    Well he does make a few points to complete the picture, but he shoulda stopped there. I mean, who among us isn’t ashamed, but no need to rub it in if he was trying to make peace. I usually write CEOs about how moronic their policies and tactics are. Only rarely do I write a letter/email of praise, and I certainly would not write praising this CEO. He could really use a new PR firm, to protect him from himself

  10. Patrick M Goldschmidt

    I guess Mr. Gable will need to complain to Google as well for posting the trademark logo on Street Views. I wonder if they requested permission as well?

  11. A quick look at Hocon’s yelp reviews yields 33 reviews, 27 of them one star. Where’s there’s smoke there’s fire, unless the owner would like to suggest that they’re just all disgruntled customers.

  12. Russell, I have never seen reviews that were that bad!! That would be embarrassing to any CEO!

  13. Paul O’malley

    When I first started to read the post, I said to myself,
    “self, good for him for responding in a timely manner,”
    but as his response went on I kept thinking “uh-oh”
    this is going downhill……and then he absolutely sh-t the
    bed with his final paragraph. I’ll bet he has lost any chance of getting new business from anybody who happens to read what he
    wrote. If he happened to run it by anyone before sending it to
    Dan, then shame on the cluelessness of that person too.

    • Paul, He’s going to apologize to Dan because he wants to do the right thing! The apology will be coming shortly!

  14. Dan,
    Your muckraking columns are a treasure for Westport. The aggrieved party in this matter went through five days of agony before an adjusted price was made. I’ve been there and I’m certain most of us have hade similar experiences. It’s five days of hell and you can’t put a price on that.

    • Dermot Meuchner

      Muckraking , you’re being facetious right? This isn’t the first time Dan has posted something not entirely truthful. There’s little journalism being done here.

      • Then don’t read the blog, Dermot, i you hold it in low esteem; where’s the guy twisting your arm?

  15. Cristina Negrin

    Laughing out loud and good for you Dan! You win!

  16. Kaempfer@mcarthurglen.com

    Jack Mitchell should offer Mr. Gable some consulting, or send him a copy of his book: HUG YOUR CUSTOMER.

    Mr. Gable, I head a good sized business and while, in reality, we know the customer isn’t always right- we have grown our business 27 fold in 25 years by always trying to put the customer first. Settling scores and making points only gives us small and momentary pleasure.

    Joey Kaempfer

    • “A good sized business.” Certainly an understatement, sir! (Everyone…look up Mr. Kaempfer’s bio.) Mr. Gable not only made an ass out of himself, and drew attention to his own past offenses, but he alienated one of the country’s most successful businesspeople. Good going, Dan and fellow readers!

  17. Rule # 1 The customer is always right. Rule# 2 If the customer is wrong, read Rule # 1. Stu Leonard

  18. Interesting guy. He has been president of a electricity reseller since 2010, Discount Power, Inc. in addition to Hocon.

    Nice company, too:
    https://ctexaminer.com/2022/03/10/third-party-electric-supplier-fined-2-million-for-marketing-violations/

    https://ikrlaw.com/file/chandler-v-discount-power-inc/

    I had a telemarketing call in 2013 from them, in violation of the Do Not Call list. Their telemarketer was based out of New Port Richie, Fla. They also phoned/reached out again in 2017.

    This is behind a paywall: https://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Shelton-energy-firm-sued-for-spoof-robocalls-12875721.php

    And the BBB is not a fan: https://www.bbb.org/us/ct/shelton/profile/electric-companies/discount-power-inc-0111-87073684

    Maybe we should go meet him to dab those crocodile tears.

  19. Dan,
    We’ve got this guy on the ropes. Push him for 20%

  20. My e-mail from “him” is a lesson on how to conduct business! Take it from a guy whose family ran extremely successful businesses for 73 years in Westport! 1910-1983.

  21. I wonder how many people have been accidentally mischarged for an emergency fee when they should not have been.. also David Gable, you are the one that should be ashamed! Trademarked image and your work email being posted? cry me a river. one can get the email address of pretty much any worker at any company including CEOs. and you know nothing about trademarks, clearly. A great response would be for you to go and audit to see how many others have been incorrectly charged fees and refund them, now.

  22. Public Utilities should be community owned and operated. The “executives” of these current privately owned/stockholder-based utilities are paid obscene amounts of money for very little work.

  23. Hocon has been a bad actor in Fairfield County for so long — witness the reviews — that the CEO brings no surprises with him. Yes, the NYT needs to call the guy in advance of publication, but not an overworked blogger. Version 2.0 will cover that, and he just wrote it. Now we’re all writing Version 3.0 — love to see those links — which is also exactly as it should be. As always, props to Dan, who inexplicably does sometimes make mistakes. But not this time.

  24. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    We have had Hocan for decades and always reliable service. That said, one payment was lost in the mail, and the employee did a screaming fit at my wife. I got a copy of the cancelled check and spoke to the owner who mandated an apology phone call from the employee. I thought that was handled well.

  25. Charge what you feel is correct. Don’t let these rich multi millionaire Westport snobs tell you how to run your business. I used Hocon for 22 years when I had my business. Nothing but professional. You don’t like it go somewhere else.

    • Wait… you run/ran a business in Westport yet you are calling your customers that pay your bills names? Wow, just wow.

  26. Jeff, You seem to bad mouth people a lot. Don’t call people in Westport snobs. Chill out. Seriously, chill.

    • Stephen Lichtman

      I don’t know “Jeff” but I’m glad I wasn’t a customer of whatever his company was. This discussion isn’t solely about price, it became a discussion about how the head of Hocon chose to respond: unprofessionally and somewhat angrily.
      But good for you Jeff for deciding to show your dislike for your former customers in Westport.

  27. Well, this response makes me never want to use Hocan.

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