With the growing price of gas these days, getting less than what you are paying for is an added insult to your budget. But, as the Associated Press (AP) reported this weekend, getting cheated at the gas pump is a pretty common occurrence. Here is what you need to know about becoming aware of the problem and getting reimbursed.
Have you ever noticed that there is a slight delay in the flow of gas when you first start pumping? If the pump hesitates for a second or two before it kicks in, then chances are that you are paying for gas that you aren’t actually getting. This can be as high as two extra gallons per fill up. And with gas approaching $4 a gallon in some areas, you could be paying $8 more each time you fill up.
So have gas station owners been cheating us for years? Not likely. Federal standards do require that the pumps start pumping out gas as soon as the meter on the pump begins. The real cause is a faulty valve (the check valve) that can go for years without being replaced or repaired. And in some cases, the pump can be cheating the gas station owners, although it usually the customers that get the short end of the dip stick. On top of the faulty valve, you could be charged as much as $5 extra on your gas, even if the pump works perfectly. Why? Well, because the pumps are allowed to charge as much as 6 cents more than what is delivered.
So how can you be aware? Pay close attention as to when the gas starts flowing and when the meter starts turning. If the two things are off, then you know that you have a problem. Newer pumps are less likely to have the faulty vales, so shop for gas at the newest gas stations (or newly refurbished) if that makes sense for you. Also, it pays to know your car. If you have a 10-gallon tank and pumped in 12 gallons of gas, then you know that there is a problem. You can be on empty, but you can’t be on negative numbers. A 10-gallon tank just can’t fit 12 gallons of gas. Period.
If you notice a problem, first approach the gas station attendant or manager. Many employees are aware of the problem and will offer a refund if asked. You can also inform government regulators about the problem.
Mary Ann Romans writes about everything related to saving money in the Frugal Blog, technology in the Computing Blog, and creating a home in the Home Blog. You can read more of her articles by clicking here.