Family left without heating oil despite prepaying

Seven On Your Side
January 14, 2011 8:29:42 PM PST
It was a young father's nightmare; too much snow and biting cold, but not enough heating oil.

The shivering dad says he got the cold shoulder from his fuel supplier and that's when he burned up the phone lines for help from 7 On Your Side.

1-year-old Tyler Shehady is just a 5 months removed from life-saving brain surgery.

"His head was wrapped up, bandaged, it was very sensitive. He had tubes in him," said Elia Shehady, an Arrow Fuel customer and Tyler's father.

So Elia was alarmed when he saw his home heating oil tank scraping "E".

"Being in a cold house is really not going to do well for his body. It's going to cause his body to fight more infection and to have to deal with more trouble," Shehady said.

There shouldn't have been a problem.

The Shehady's already pre-paid Arrow Fuel hundreds for oil as part of an automatic fuel delivery contract.

So when mercury and the fuel gauge dropped, Elia started calling Arrow for oil.

"What did the company say when you kept calling them?" asked Eyewitness News reporter Nina Pineda.

"Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow," Shehady said.

Finally, an Arrow deliveryman arrived, but gave him only a few emergency gallons.

"He called service right in front of me and he said, 'you need to send this guy some oil. He's dry, his tanks are dry'," Shehady said.

Help never came, and the very next day, Elia says his oil ran out.

"Not any good condition for a child, for a sick child and my wife," Shehady said.

"So they had to go stay somewhere else?" Pineda asked.

"Yeah, they stayed with the in-laws," Shehady said.

So Elia paid another fuel oil company hundreds to get some oil.

"If you hadn't done that you would have gone the New Year's Eve weekend with no oil?" Pineda asked.

"Absolutely, I wouldn't have been able to be in the house," Shehady said.

So, 7 On Your Side started calling Arrow Fuel.

Just a day later Arrow Fuel showed up.

Elia finally had his tank filled.

The owner apologized and even gave him $200 in free oil.

"It worked, it helped you guys got me heat, so I'm very grateful," Shehady said.

Arrow Fuel's owner apologized for the poor communication, but insisted, despite what Elia says, the family was never out of fuel and suggesting instead there he had a faulty fuel gauge.

But Eyewitness News saw no problems as we watched as the gauge go up when Arrow Fuel filled his tank.