Local News

Gas Pump Inspectors Work To Ensure Customers Get What They Pay For

Posted April 9, 2004

— With gas prices soaring,

people want to know they are getting what they pay for. So, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture inspects gas pumps.

The state only has 23 people to check nearly 120,000 pumps. That's a big job for a small number of workers.

The tests are to ensure that when you buy a gallon, you get a gallon.

"I'd say if we go to 100 pumps, we might find one that's off," inspector Gerald Price said.

Winston Sutton supervises the state's gas pump inspections. His inspectors can only get to each station once every 15 months. But with gas prices soaring, they do all they can with what they have.

"It's a consumer issue that we're very sensitive to," Sutton said. "We want to help out wherever we can, especially when a commodity such as gasoline gets so expensive."

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Gas station owner Mac McDonald said it makes him nervous to see the inspection truck pull up to his station.

"Absolutely," he said. "Not glad to see 'em.

"Not only could I be giving away too little, I could be giving away too much gasoline. So, it's a check for me and for the customers."

In the rare cases when pumps are inaccurate, the error favors the customer 80 percent of the time.

Once they set the pumps accurately, inspectors seal the gauges with a metal band. If the band is broken, a station owner can be fined.

"At this point, with the gas prices going up so high, I'm glad that they're checking it," gas customer Molly Russell said. "It's not something I really thought about until we were dealing with this gas issue."

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