13 Investigates: Pump patrol discovers years between inspections

13 Investigates: Pump patrol discovers years between inspections story image

STATEWIDE (WGME) - We've been enjoying gas prices that are almost a quarter less a gallon than this time last year, but AAA is warning those prices could soon start climbing as refineries slow production. As you get ready to spend more on gas, we discover pumps that haven't been inspected in years could already be costing you.

As you hang up the hose, you want every drop you pay for, but pumps across the state could be ripping you off. We went to a dozen southern Maine gas stations during the last week checking the dates on the inspection stickers. Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Weights and Measures haven't been to an Irving in South Portland in more than three years.

The pumps at two other stations we visited haven't been checked in more than two years. We found the pumps at a station in Falmouth and the new Cumberland Farms in Portland don't have any inspection stickers at all.

We met up with Conrad Brown. He's one of just six inspectors in the state responsible for keeping an eye on all 25,000 gas pumps across Maine. He says the goal is to inspect each pump every two years.

"In light of all the tests we have and manpower, it's what we can do. We find it to be adequate," Brown said.

We learned checking each pump to make sure it's giving you what you're paying for is a tedious, time consuming process. After a visual inspection, Brown pumped 5 gallons into test containers and compared the display on the pump to the gauge on his equipment.

Brown points out precision is important for consumers and gas station owners, too.

"If there's an inaccuracy in favor of the consumer, the device user loses on every transaction. There's a lot of money on the line for everyone," Brown said.

He finds about 9 out of 10 pumps deliver the right about of fuel, but it's that one other pump that's not putting enough gas in your tank, or maybe too much, that keeps Brown and his team checking.

Our research found Maine law doesn't require or specify a periodic inspection only that equipment be properly maintained.

We found some states inspect every year, others, like Maine, will wait years between inspections.

Inspector Brown suggests before you even start pumping, make sure the pump resets to zero. He sometimes sees pumps that jump before any product is delivered.

If you suspect a problem with the pump, call the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry at 287-3841.

13 Investigates: Pump patrol discovers years between inspections
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