The Gas Pump Mistaketh Not…..?


Now here’s what I thought was a new way to cheat consumers until I mentioned it to my wife, who responded with the equivalent of: Where’ve you been?  This has been going on for quite a while.  Those machines break and they don’t fix them.

Undaunted, I write today to tell how I was cheated by a gas pump at my last fill-up for my little Nissan Altima.  At the Shell station on South main, just before the Capital Boulevard mess we laughingly call an intersection in Wake Forest, NC, I filled ‘er up with regular.  Not mid-grade or super, but regular.  As always.  Trouble is, my receipt showed I had filled up with mid-grade, at a cost of $3.659, $.16 more per gallon than the regular I thought I had pumped.

You might well be asking at this moment: “Did he press the mid-grade button by mistake?”  Not possible; I’m positive I pressed the regular (87 octane) button.  As evidence I submit that while I filled the tank and when I checked my receipt, the little window above the regular button was the only one with a price and the price was $3.49, same as the sign all gas stations have to let us know what a good deal we’re getting.  The little windows above the mid-grade and super buttons were blank.

When I told the counter person about the apparent error, he was astonished.  “The machine does
not make mistake,” he advised.  “You push wrong button,” he explained.  I told him that I had purchased gas at his establishment many times and was certain I had never purchased any type of gas other than regular.  I also told him about the little window above the regular button.

Following a brief meeting with the manager, I was given a refund of $1.80, an incorrect amount (should have been $2.50), but as I do not normally have a calulator handy when filling my own gas tank, and as I could feel my Irish temper threatening to erupt, I took the money and left.

While a well-known credit card company is proudly informing us on television that we can earn 3-5% cash back, $30-50 for $1,000 spent (WOW!), while the credit card company is charging 12.99% interest ($129.90 interest per year and higher if you have a late payment), could it be that gas stations are pocketing an extra $.16 or so on sales of what their customers think is regular gas?

My advice: when filling your gas tank, get a receipt and check it.  I’m still $.70 short, and times are tough.

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