NORWALK - Oil companies responded Friday to customers? complaints about the prices they locked into paying months ago when the price of oil was higher than the current market value.

According to the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association, local distributors are unable to charge patrons less for their oil because they have to purchase at least 80 percent of each lock-in order at the time it was created.

?It's good that price has declined. But you bought a product just the same as if you walked out of a car lot and the car went on sale or you bought clothing and then the clothing went on sale,? Gene Guilford, of the Independent CT Petroleum Association, says. ?The fact that you paid a price that was higher three months ago than it was today doesn't mean you were exploited then or now. It means the market has changed and it has changed substantially.?

On Tuesday, News 12 Connecticut reported that residents may have a way out of paying the higher oil prices they locked into months ago.

According to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, customers can pay a fee to terminate their current contracts, which may cost them less than remaining in their current, high-priced contracts.

?In most contracts, there is a liquidation fee that enables people to exit the contract by paying really what's a penalty, but in the long run, they may be better served paying that fee and having the lower market price now because, in total, they may pay less,? Blumenthal says.

The attorney general has set up a special hotline for questions about home heating oil contracts. Residents can call 860-808-5400 with questions.