Petrol pumps giving away free fuel
- Published on Thursday, 09 August 2012 10:37
- Written by Scott Buckler
An AA dip check of a handful of petrol stations found some pumps giving up to 4.4% more fuel than shown on the pump – effectively a 6p-a-litre gift to drivers
However, high pump prices have fuelled driver's rip-off suspicions and led to complaints to Trading Standards across the country.
Problems with an EU move to harmonise fuel measuring on forecourts mean that some pumps have been supplying more fuel than the counter indicates. In November, a major supermarket announced that stemming a £500,000-a-year loss from over-dispensed fuel was being hindered by difficulties in meeting new regulations.
Trading Standards have this year tested fuel pumps across the country in response to driver complaints, but a rule requiring a pump to be reset even if it dispenses significantly more fuel than shown on the display means that some motorists' moans have backfired.
AA/Populus research has shown that 28% of AA members (31% among women) buy a set amount of fuel whenever they visit a petrol station. This has created paranoia among drivers whose diminishing return from their set spend has made them try to monitor how much fuel they get, particularly in the first half of this year when petrol reached a record of 148.42p a litre and diesel 147.91p.
Trading Standards officers have reported discrepancies at four of 38 sites in Cumbria and 11 of 216 nozzles in Derby. In Newport, just two of 353 nozzles failed – one of them giving more fuel than indicated. In North Lanarkshire, petrol station operators called in Trading Standards last month to help reassure customers that they are getting their money's worth from the pumps.
An EU ruling that will eventually force retailers to upgrade forecourt equipment to meet the new Measuring Instruments Directive, coming into force by the end of October 2016, has created an incompatibility problem for forecourts with a mix of ageing and newer pumps.
In November, retailers complained of having to put up with older pumps over-dispensing fuel until they can be replaced completely. Meanwhile, with drivers ever-wary of being ripped off at the pump, the chance of a visit from Trading Standards grows.