Even As Gas Prices Rise, Ag Officials See Little Cheating At Pumps
Posted August 29, 2005 5:18 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — As gas prices rise, so does the number of complaints of possible cheating that the
North Carolina Department of Agriculture
"You always raise suspicions when prices go crazy," said Al Camacho, who is feeling the effect of high gas prices.
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For the most part, however, officials with the Department of Agriculture say they do not find any evidence of cheating.
As one of the state's 25 Standards Division inspectors, it is Frank Wood's job to make sure consumers get what they pay for at the pump.
"People don't like to pay $45 and $50, where it used to cost them $30 to fill up," Wood said. "So, they're not very happy with the prices. You kind of start looking for problems."
While Wood's fellow inspectors test the chemical quality of gas, he measures quantity.
He pumps five gallons fast and then five gallons slowly. As long as the amount comes to within about 6.5 tablespoons, the pumps pass.
"There's a lot of complaints, very few problems," Wood said.
Inspection supervisor Donald Byrd said sometimes there are mistakes, but that he has not run across instances where he felt the stations were intentionally trying to cheat their customers.
Some customers recently claimed a Sheetz station in Fuquay-Varina shorted them. Inspectors confirmed a single pump was overcharging a half-gallon's worth of gas for every five gallons.
Inspectors, however, said those problems are very rare. Still, they understand the public's frustration.
"They don't want to pay the additional price of the gas, but we don't have anything to do with regulating the price of it," Byrd said.
With approximately 115,000 gasoline tanks statewide, gasoline pumps are generally checked every 18 months, Inspectors, however, said they generally respond almost immediately to any complaints.