Problem Pumps Both Shortchange, Benefit Customers

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    You paid for a gallon of gas. But did you really get a gallon?

    You paid for a gallon of gas. But did you really get a gallon? State records show the answer to that question is often "no." 

    Thousands of gas pumps fail inspection in Texas each year, some shortchanging customers, while others give out more gas than you paid for. 

    "Every little drop, every penny counts," said Candy Aguilera as she filled up her car at a gas station in Dallas

    Faulty Pumps Pose Problems

    [DFW] Faulty Pumps Pose Problems
    You paid for a gallon of gas. But did you really get a gallon? State records show the answer to that question is often "no."

    In Texas, 95 percent of pumps typically pass inspection and about 5 percent fail, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture, which runs the pump inspection program. But with 260,000 pumps in the state, about 13,000 pumps may be giving customers the wrong amount of gas at any given time.

    "It's got to be right," said Charlie Hall, who owns a gas station on Glade Road in Colleyville. "You don't want to take nothing from somebody, not as long as I've been in business."

    Inspectors found three pumps that failed inspection at Hall's store last year. Two were putting out too little gas, and one was giving up too much.

    Hall said he suspects a new vapor recovery system installed at his station threw off the measurements. He said he did not do anything to intentionally change the way the pumps measured.

    But Hall said he wishes the state would focus more on cases of tampering and less on stations where mechanical issues cause problems with the pumps. 

    "If you've got someone tampering with the pumps, bust them totally, but I wouldn't know the first thing about changing this," Hall said.

    At the Lucky 7 gas station on John T. White in Fort Worth, inspectors found three pumps that were shortchanging customers by 26 cubic inches (about 26 tablespoons) on every five gallons of gas.

    The owner, Mike Dosani, said he didn't know there were problems with the pumps when he bought the station last year. He said the pumps are fixed now, except for one that is waiting for parts and has been temporarily pulled out of service.

    Even if a pump is off by a small amount, it can add up over time, especially if you're a driver who fills your tank at the same gas station, using the same pumps, week after week.

    Right now, gas averages $2.49 per gallon in Dallas. If a pump is off by approximately 26 tablespoons for every five gallons pumped, you would lose about 84 cents when filling a 15-gallon tank.  Use that same pump every week, and in one year you would pay for about $43 of gas you didn't get.

    On the flip side, one pump at a Duncanville gas station on Camp Wisdom Road was giving up an extra 39 tablespoons for every five gallons pumped. A 15-gallon fill at that pump each week would have netted you about $65 in free gas during one year.

    The station owner, Ssyam Ssrestes, said mechanical problems caused the pump malfunction, along with two other pumps that were shorting customers. Now, the problems have been fixed, he said.

    Perhaps the most surprising thing is how infrequently many pumps are inspected. Texas only requires each pump to be inspected once every four years. And just 85 inspectors are responsible for 260,000 pumps.

    But the state said if a consumer complains about a station, inspectors will visit within 10 days to check the pumps. Consumers can call 1-800-TELL-TDA to report problems.

    The state Department of Agriculture also posts pump inspection reports online, allowing drivers to see for themselves which stations had problem pumps.

    To download reports for Out of Order pumps in some North Texas counties, see the list below: