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Is Your Gas Pump Ripping You Off?

Updated: Thursday, August 7 2014, 09:55 PM CDT

As summer temperatures soar, so do the number of drivers on the road and in turn the number of gas pumps shortchanging customers fueling up. 

The Texas Department of Agriculture says they routinely go out to check pumps that customers have filed complaints on and have seen a slight increase in the summer months likely because more people are traveling. 

"About 95 percent of the pumps out there are acting just fine so there's about five percent that we have to focus on so we're always looking for those to find any pumps that may be cheating customers," TDA Director of Communications Bryan Black said. 

Black said TDA inspectors average about 39 complaints a month is Austin.  Online records show that in Austin during the months of May through July there were more than 80 pumps that failed inspection across the city. 

Inspectors say pumps can fail if they don't have the correct stickers on them or the hoses are leaking. 

Another reason a pump will fail may be because of pump jumping, or when the pump starts charging the customer before the fuel is dispensed. 

Shortchanging pumps can also mean a customer isn't getting everything they're paying for at the pump. 

TDA Inspectors like Tim Faske check for this problem by drawing a five gallon test out of the pump to see if it is charging the proper amount for the fuel. 

"Our policy is plus or minus six cubic inches and this one is actually a plus," Faske said as he tested a pump at a station off Westgate Boulevard in Austin.

But online records show that not all pumps inspectors check have been passing the test lately. 

According to records, the Q Mart located at 105 East Stassney Lane near Congress Avenue wasn't giving customers all they paid for earlier this summer. 

Based on the five gallon test at six different pumps each driver who filled up a 15 gallon tank could have been shorted close to $5. 

At the Chevron station located at 12020 RR 620 North near Hatch Road 17 pumps failed in May, many cited for pump jumping.

More than a month later the pumps were still out of order with bags and TDA tags on them. 

The owner did not comment on the issue but the TDA said they pumps would have to remain unused until a certified tech fixed them. 

Now technology is helping customers make sure they're getting their money's worth at the pump. 

The TDA has started a pilot program with HEB stores in Central Texas that uses QR codes at the pumps. 

Drivers can scan the QR code at the pump with their smartphones and find out inspection history of that station. 

Many drivers said the tool is helpful for those who want to make sure they're getting the most out of their fuel budgets.  

Is Your Gas Pump Ripping You Off?


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