Overcharged at the pump?

September 6, 2012 2:57:12 PM PDT
How closely do you check what you're charged at the gas pump? Have you ever actually run the numbers to know if you're getting what you pay for? You may want to pay closer attention after you see what happened to an ABC11 news crew recently.

Fred Shropshire and cameraman Tommy Harris were filling up at a Shell station on Durham's West Main Street when the gas nozzle clicked off, but the price meter kept going.

It kept going so long they had time to pull a camera out of their truck and record what was happening. The amount charged kept going until Fred put the nozzle back in the pump.

Trying to get to the bottom of how it happened, ABC11 contacted inspectors with the NC Department of Agriculture and showed them the video.

Sam Cain, who's been checking pumps in North Carolina for the past seven years, had a few guesses off the bat.

"There's either a check valve or there's an internal leak somewhere or it could be an external link," he offered.

The state is supposed to inspect every pump at every gas station at least once a year. But as the I-Team first reported this past May, it doesn't always happen that way.

Cuts at the state level have reduced the number of inspectors to do the job.

We found out that no one has checked any pumps in Durham for at least two months, and Cain said it could be another three or four months before they can bring someone online.  What's more, Cain said they find problems all the time.

"Probably, I'm going to find something wrong, 85 percent of the time," he explained.

Cain said most of those problems are smaller. He estimated a big problem like a pump that overcharges happens about 10 percent of the time in inspections.

Out at the Shell station where our news crew noticed the original problem, Cain found it had been fixed.  The station manager told us on the phone a customer had noticed it. They shut the pump down, and fixed it the next day.

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