Hundreds of uncalibrated gas pumps may be costing you more when you fill up

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BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Why you may be unintentionally paying more at the pump
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The amount of gas you pay for at the pump may not be the amount you always get.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The amount of gas you pay for at the pump may not be the amount you always get. Gas pumps can get out of calibration and can unintentionally cost the consumer more.

To combat this, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA) regularly inspects gas stations.

Any pumps that have issues with receipt paper, issues with displays, or that don't give the correct amount of gas are deemed out of compliance and labeled as 'rejected'.

"We're here to protect the citizens of North Carolina because if no one's looking out for them, maybe the equipment will wear out and it starts telling bad results, overcharging customers, so it's our job to oversee that and protect them," said Chad Parker, the NCDA measurement section manager. Parker oversees pump inspections across the state and said North Carolina has around 40 inspectors.

Pumps in Wake County reported the highest rejection rate with 10.5% of all pumps inspected since July coming back as out of calibration.

In Durham County, just 3.8% of the 2,034 pumps inspected were labeled as out of compliance over the last five months.

Cumberland County reported a similar rate--3.7% of the 1,941 pumps inspected had a problem.

A spokesperson for NCDA said the department believes Wake County's rejection rate is so high because the county did not have an inspector between 2019-2020.

Parker said while the department tries to inspect every pump annually, statewide inspectors are still trying to catch up after the pandemic paused inspections.

With gas prices in North Carolina 68% higher than last Thanksgiving, Parker said ensuring these rates remain low is vital.

"It makes it even more important that the calibration of that meter is correct and you're getting the correct amount that you expect," he said.

When inspectors do find issues, Parker said if the issue is severe enough and can harm the customer, the pump is shut down.

"We actually went about three months with our guys not doing inspections. We were told to stay home. And then after that, we returned slowly and are still trying to keep safety precautions and everything on full blast. So we're obviously we're still trying to catch up," Parker said.

Around 83% of the pumps rejected have been fixed in Wake County, 67% in Durham County and 66% in Cumberland County, according to data provided by NCDA.

Consumers can check the last time a pump has been inspected by finding the NCDA sticker placed on each pump. If an individual has any concerns about a pump they use, they can alert NCDA at 984-236-4750.