Motorists urged to watch prices at pumps after SLC man overcharged buying gas
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
NORWOOD — St. Lawrence County residents are urged to pay attention at the pump after a local man reported that he paid more than the advertised price when purchasing diesel at a local gas station.
A customer of the Sunoco gas station in Norwood was overcharged for diesel fuel, prompting an investigation by the Weights and Measures department.Adam Simmons, director of Weights & Measures/Consumer Affairs for St. Lawrence County, said he investigated the incident shortly after receiving the complaint. Simmons was able to confirm the gentleman involved was in fact charged more than the advertised price.
“I investigated for about 20 minutes and we found the road sign and pump topper both showed $3.89 per gallon, while the fuel selection button was displaying $3.99,” Simmons said.
Under Article 16 law, all gas stations are required to ensure all advertised prices match the actual pricing, or be subject to fines.
In this case, Simmons said the station likely forgot to change the advertising signs because both needed to be changed by hand.
He said there is no law in New York State that requires advertising signs to be LED lights, but that would help avoid incidents like this he said.
As part of the investigation, Simmons said the customer was refunded the appropriate total he was owed, around $1.50 total.
Why that many not seem like a large sum on its own, it’s likely that a number of vehicles purchased diesel fuel at a price above the advertised amount.
“Under Article 16, the customer was owed a refund for the difference of what was advertised versus what was paid. But the biggest thing is any station found to be in violation is subject to a $100 fine for the first dispenser that is marked incorrectly and $500 for all subsequent violations found,” Simmons said.
Simmons confirmed the station will be subject to the penalty schedule as stated in Article 16, including all subsequent pumps that were displaying the incorrect price.
“What people don’t realize many times is the fuel grade selection controls are what actually control the pricing, it has nothing to do with the pump toppers or road signs. It’s important everyone looks at the fuel grade selection controls to make sure they’re paying the right price,” Simmons said.
He urged customers to save receipts from gas purchases, it may mean the difference between a refund or being out of luck.
“Luckily in this case the gentleman saved his receipt and I was on site pretty soon after, so this case was much easier than most. The road sign and pump topper weren’t even changed yet, so it was resolved in about 20 minutes. But had this played out differently and he didn’t have a receipt, it would have been hard to prove there was a discrepancy in pricing,” Simmons said.
Simmons also wanted to draw attention to the Weights and Measures website, where customers can file complaints electronically outside of normal business hours. The online form even has an attachment option for pictures of receipts and other documents.
“We hope anyone who has experienced something like this will reach out to us, we are always happy to help. Our office also goes beyond weights and measures, we also handle consumer affair complaints as well. We are always happy to help and hope people reach out with any concerns,” Simmons said.
The office of Weights & Measures/Consumer Affairs can be reached by calling (315) 379-9734.
The online consumer complaint form can be found at, https://www.stlawco.org/Departments/WeightsMeasures/ConsumerComplaint .