With gas prices in the U.S. at record levels, folks should at least expect to get exactly what they pay for at the pump. A fuel company in Texas with dozens of gasoline stations in the Houston area shortchanged customers at nearly 1,000 of its gas pumps and could face fines topping $100,000, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture. State investigators said more than 60% of the pumps at 47 Sunmart stations owned by Petroleum Wholesale were shortchanging customers. At 15 of those stations, every pump was “cheating drivers,” according to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. The problem pumps were shut down until they can be recalibrated. Commissioner Staples said the company could face fines of more than $100,000. The Commissioner had this to say:
At a time when families are struggling to purchase fuel, I am sure all Texans would agree with me that despicable violations such as these are repulsive and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This matter was referred to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. However, Houston wasn’t the only place where customers were being cheated. Statewide, more than 5% of the 109,369 pumps inspected last year in Texas — 5,778 of them — gave the wrong amount of gasoline or had other problems that put them out of commission until they were fixed. Of those problem pumps, almost 28%, or 1,612, shorted customers on gasoline beyond a small variance allowed by the state, according to Texas Department of Agriculture inspection data analyzed by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News. That percentage reflects only categories that measure gas output, not other problems that can affect pump accuracy.
Another 27% of the problem pumps statewide, or 1,575, gave more gasoline than purchased. Even pumps that pass inspection are allowed to be off by as much as six cubic inches per five gallons — about six tablespoons — which legally can cost customers two cents a gallon, based on $4-a-gallon gasoline. The standard is stricter for newly-installed pumps. If 60% or more of a station’s pumps short the customer, even within the tolerance level, they are shut down. Commissioner Staples said at the Sunmart stations, the amount customers were shorted ranged from “slightly over to substantially over” the legal tolerance level. The pump that shortchanged customers the most — about a tenth of a gallon for every five gallons purchased — was in the Houston area.
The operation was triggered when officials found Sunmart inspections were yielding a 34% rate of noncompliance with state standards, compared with the standard of 4% to 6%. The department, with a team of about 50 inspectors and coordinators, conducted an inspection blitz of every station over a weekend.
Source: San Antonio Express
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.