NH Law About... Heating - Prepaid Contracts

Introduction to... Heating - Prepaid Contracts

Updated February 24, 2017.

RSA 339 sections 78 and 79 establish the parameters for fair prepaid oil heating contracts. Failure to comply can become an “unfair and deceptive act or practice” in violation of the Consumer Protection statute, RSA 358-A. Although RSA 358-A does not specifically include prepaid oil heating contracts as a possible unfair practice, RSA 339:79, VI makes it clear that oil heating companies’ noncompliance with RSA 339:78 and 79 is an unfair practice and is therefore a violation of RSA 358-A.

This is a classic example of how a legal researcher frequently needs to look at more than one statute, and understand how statutes connect to get the complete picture. Looking at either statute by itself does not give all the information. Luckily, RSA 339:79, VI actually refers to the Consumer Protection statute, RSA 358-A so it is easy to make the connection. 

Getting to RSA 339 in the first place, however, was difficult. Usually, we recommend using the print index to the statutes but in this case, the index was itself the problem. Usually there are many ways to locate a relevant statute through an index but there was nothing relevant under terms “contracts,” “heating,”  “prepaid,”  “petroleum products” or “guaranteed price plans”  - which is the actual phrase used in RSA 339:79. Finally, we looked under “oil and gas” which led to “heating oil” which led to “contracts” which at last led to the statute. 

Another difficulty was the phrase “prepaid” contracts. Sources we consulted used several forms of this word interchangeably. “Pre-paid”, “pre-buy”, “prepayment” and “guaranteed price plans” contracts were all possible word choices. The existence of logical synonyms for words or phrases relevant to a research problem can create problems, especially when trying to find information online, where the correct form of the word is critical to success.

The Read About section of this guide refers to resources about the law and will provide context and key terms. Read the Law links to selected laws and should be used as a jumping off point for further research.

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney.

Read about... Heating - Prepaid Contracts


New Hampshire. Dept. Of Justice. Consumer Sourcebook. Home Heating

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

If you have problems with a fuel provider not living up to a contract, contact the NH Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau at 603-271-3641 1-800-468-4454, or through its Web site. For problems with natural gas, contact the Public Utilities Commission at 603-271-2431.   GO>

New Hampshire. Dept. of Justice. Consumer Sourcebook. Contracts.

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

[A] simple, general overview of contract and basic consumer law ...   GO>


A Practical Guide to Understanding RSA 358-A in New Hampshire/ by Michael A. Delaney and Kenneth E. Rubenstein, eds. Boston, Mass.: Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 2014.  GO>

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

Unfair and deceptive acts and practices. Boston, MA : National Consumer Law Center, [2016]. 9th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

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Read the law about... Heating - Prepaid Contracts


RSA 339. Sales of Certain Articles  GO>

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

RSA 358-A. Regulation of Business Practices for Consumer Protection  GO>

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

Find the New Hampshire statutes in print at libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>


New Hampshire. Dept. of Justice. Consumer Complaints

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

Understanding the Complaint Process -- Business Complaint Lookup -- Filing a Complaint -- Forms and Publications -- Effective Negotiation -- Mediation Program -- Small Claims Court -- Writing a Complaint Letter   GO>

New Hampshire. Dept. of Justice. Oil Company Updates.   GO>

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

New Hampshire. Dept. of State. Petroleum Sales Contracts  GO>

Link verified on: February 24, 2017


Link verified on: May 18, 2018

Volunteer attorneys are available to answer legal questions through LawLine, a free service of the NH Bar Association. LawLine is held on the SECOND Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m. ~ 8:00 p.m. To reach LawLine, call (toll free) 800-868-1212.   GO>

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