Thursday, December 8

How to make sure you’re not overcharged for gas


Here’s what to look out for to make sure what you pay for at the pump matches how much fuel is being put in your car.

ARIZONA, USA — Arizona’s average gas price is currently about $4.61 a gallon, according to AAA.

So, if you’re paying that much, you really want to make sure you’re getting every penny of what you’re putting in your car, but state inspection records show, that doesn’t always happen.

Not getting everything that was paid for

Michael Bonner keeps track of how much fuel he has left based off of how much mileage he’s logged on his SUV.

“At 250 miles, I know what to expect as far as gallons,” Bonner said.

His fuel gauge is broken on his car, so he makes sure to keep track.

“My trip meter was at 243, and so I figured it should take about 12 gallons,” Bonner said.

But earlier this month at a gas station in east Mesa, something was off.

“It ended up taking 16 gallons,” Bonner said. “I wasn’t prepared for that.”

It was four gallons more than he was anticipating.

“It was a shocker to me,” Bonner said. “How many times do you pay those outrageous prices at the pump and you just get in your car and drive away?”

Bonner complained to Arizona’s Weights and Measures Services Division, and inspection records show some of the pumps weren’t giving drivers everything they were paying for.

“I felt vindicated when he told me that, ‘Hey, this is what I found. And you were right,” Bonner said.

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State inspections

In the last month, the state inspected 72 gas stations throughout Arizona. Inspectors found 15 violations for overcharging consumers.

Eight stations were found to have “meter creep,” where the meter keeps going up after fuel has stopped being pumped.

Six stations were found by inspectors to be in favor of the gas station owner, meaning consumers received less fuel than what was indicated on the pump.

Another station was cited for “meter jump,” where the meter starts before fuel is being dispensed.

“Regardless of what fuel prices are, it’s important to know that you’re getting what you’re paying for,” Kevin Allen, Associate Director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Weights and Measures Services Division, said.

“A lot of times, the consumers, they can’t see that. They just assume that what the pump is telling them, that’s the correct amount.”

Allen’s division is the one that makes sure a gallon on the pump is a gallon in your tank and takes enforcement action if needed.

According to numbers provided by Allen, it’s rare that you aren’t getting everything that you paid for.

“It’s been a long time since we found anything where there’s evidence that it’s intentional,” Allen said. “Like I said, a lot of times it’s just the device goes out of calibration, there’s a malfunction.”

What to look out for

Allen said if you notice that something is off like the pump is not starting on zero or keeps going up after you stopped fueling, let Weights and Measures know.

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Complaints can be filed online here.

Allen said if an inspector finds there’s a violation that costs the consumer, they’ll usually place the pump out of service. Adding, there’s often a civil penalty that owners have to pay too that could cost hundreds of dollars.

To find the lowest gas prices in Arizona, click here.

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