I read the article regarding BlueRhino and Amerigas (“Companies are now shorting (cheating) on propane tank refills“). I guess one could argue both sides of the issue. My personal opinion is that while the practice is sleazy, there’s nothing illegal going on, as the canisters are marked with the amount of propane they contain. It’s not unlike potato chips or breakfast cereal sold “by weight not by volume”. Manufacturers all over the place put their product in packaging far larger than the actual contents would require.
Like I said, it’s sleazy, so except for one or two barbecue “emergencies” I haven’t used an exchange service in years. I take my tanks down to a local “KOA” type campground and have them refilled there. For several dollars less than the grocery store exchange price I get my personally-owned tank completely refilled. Many U-Haul locations also refill propane tanks. Mine offers “big tank” pricing if you bring in multiple small (20 lb.) tanks, making it an even better deal than the campground.
My advice to anyone who uses 20 lb. propane tanks is this: Go back to BlueRhino or Amerigas one more time and cherry-pick a nice, new tank. The manufacture date is stamped on the handle/safety ring that surrounds the valve. Look for the latest date possible, since these 20 lb. tanks must be less than 12 years old to be refilled legally. There are lots of 10 year old tanks floating around and you don’t want one of those. So get the newest, cleanest tank you can and then keep it – it’s yours. Have it refilled at a campground or U-Haul and never get ripped off by an exchange outfit again. – Matt R.