(10/18/13) - The complaints and financial claims are growing against a Mid-Michigan fuel company that's gone out of business.
Now some customers are wondering if they'll get their money back.
Miles Petroleum in Merrill informed its customers this summer that it was no longer operating. Customers who pre-paid for heating oil are afraid they're out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The state attorney general's office is reporting 120 complaints about Miles Petroleum to their consumer mediation division. The financial claims total nearly $1.3 million.
Matt Wardin of Wardin Farms near Hemlock bought heating oil and other products from Miles Petroleum for more than 10 years.
So Wardin and other Miles customers were surprised when the owner, Barry Marlow, went out of business. Wardin, like many others, had pre-paid for fuel products.
"We put $10,000 down, so that is what is gone," he said.
It appears there's little chance Wardin and others will get their money back.
"I don't really feel this [is] something he had much control over, but I think he saw it coming, and was trying to keep it solvent," Wardin said.
Wardin worries about neighbors who are also former Miles Petroleum customers. Eighty-four-year-old Ted Masar did business with Miles for 20 years.
"About $2,400," he said. That's how much the Korean War veteran lost. Now he has to come up with that amount to get heating oil from somewhere else, but he's not mad at Marlow.
"I lost more than the money, I lost a friend, I think," he said.
Marlow was recently charged with underground storage tank violations in Saginaw County, which is not related to his business closing. For now, the attorney general's office is taking complaints and seeing if any of the customers can get their money back.
Wardin Farms has started working with a new fuel company.
"The company we went to, they have a pre-paid program but we are a little leery now," Wardin said.
Gratiot County Sheriff Doug Wright says his office has also received complaints from former Miles Petroleum customers, including one farmer who is out $250,000.
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