Two Georgia Gas Stations Closed For Shorting Customers

Georgia state inspectors closed two large Cisco gas stations just across the state line from Florida last week in what the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture described as “one of the worst cases of shorting gas customers he’s seen since he took office back in 1969.” (Why Ag? Why not?) An inspector found that a five gallon test pump turned up over a quart short at the Cisco Travel Plaza off Interstate 95′s Exit 6, and a similar test revealed a suspiciously similar shortage at another Cisco Travel Plaza off Exit 1.

“The cases where we’ve found substantial shortage on all nozzles leads us to believe it’s a good possibility it might prove to be deliberate. If it’s deliberate, we’re going to bring criminal charges,” the commissioner promised.

Those charges may mean prosecution, plus fines that Irvin says could hit $1,000 for every gas customer allegedly cheated by these stations.

Staff members at the Georgia Department of Agriculture have contacted their counterparts in Florida, Irvin said, so the Sunshine State can keep a close eye on stations south of the border.

The Consumerist reader who tipped us to this story writes,

I live in Florida, and frequently drive up to this Cisco gas station just over the line in Georgia for cheaper gas. Usually this place is booming, they have probably close to 100 pumps, a convenience store, and a few restaurants. Yesterday, it was a ghost town. The state has shut them down for ripping off customers and found the regulatory seals on the pumps had been broken. I had suspected something was up, as my car was consistently taking more to fill up from empty when using their pumps. Greed=0 Consumers=1

We’re glad the stations are closed, but we’ll wait to see whether or not former customers actually see any refunds before awarding a point. But hey, if Georgia manages to fine the station owners $1,000 per customer, they should make out just swell.

(Thanks to Jay!)

“Investigators Freeze Hot Spot for Gas Across the Georgia Border” [First Coast News]

Comments

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  1. joeblevins says:

    Dept of Agriculture handles wieghts and measures.

  2. IrisMR says:

    Good job. Good riddance.

  3. peggyhill says:

    as if we weren’t being ripped off plenty by Sheik al-Big Oil already… What a total crock.

  4. DeltaPurser says:

    Fat chance they will collect anything even close to $1,000 per customer!

    Watch this turn into a class action suit where some ambulance chaser gets 90% of the award and the 1,000′s of customers end up with 20 cents each…

  5. G0lluM says:

    @joeblevins: Ah, thanks for that info. I live in Georgia and have wondered many times why the Dept. of Agriculture has jurisdiction over gas pumps.

    The sign-off dates on the pumps are sometimes over 2 years old! Does anyone else wonder if this isn’t more widespread? With gas getting so expensive, it becomes more lucrative to short-change by, say, a tenth of a gallon. Hmmmmm. I think I’m going to try a little experiment and fill a 5 gallon gas can, then see how much the pump says I used…

  6. G0lluM says:

    @DeltaPurser: I can tell you with almost absolute certainty that the owners of this gas station are far more afraid of Bubba and friends pursuing some vigilante-style justice than they are of any fines that may be levied against them.

  7. bringafajita says:

    Oh man, I’m so glad that horrible place got shut down. Everyone who worked there knew they could be a total a-hole to customers because their gas was so much cheaper. After one particularly terrible incident with a one-armed cashier yelling at me, I started going to the BP across the road anyway.

  8. bkpatt says:

    @DeltaPurser: The $1,000 per customer fine is a state-levied fine, never intended for the customer.

    However, I imagine a class-action by the customers in addition to the fine is not out of the question, I’m sure the state weights and measures data used to close the stations down would make great evidence. Just remember, first customer to file and request class action status will be the rich one, the rest will get chump change! Hurry hurry!

  9. IphtashuFitz says:

    @DeltaPurser: It’s a punitive fine levied by the state that’s $1000 per customer, meaning it’s just the govermnent saying “You owe us X thousand dollars for being bad”. It’s not $1000 that would be returned to each customer. The people who got screwed likely won’t see any relief unless they decide to sue on their own and attempt a class action lawsuit. But this in itself is nothing like a class action lawsuit. It’s just the government punishing illegal behavior.

  10. @G0lluM: You should ALWAYS keep an eye on the pump and if there seems to be an issue, either talk to the manager then and there or call the dept. of weights and measures, whose number is usually right on the pump.

    These things don’t usually go on that long because there are plenty of reasonably anal-retentive car owners. I basically know (after 8 years in the same car) how much gas it takes to fill my tank up when it’s at 1/2, 1/4, etc. The one time I noticed a discrepancy (at a station I used all the time and knew the owner of), I reported the problem to the manager on duty and she said, “thanks for letting us know, we’ve been having problems with that one all morning, I’m just going to shut it off.” and refunded my gas. It was off for like a week and had a shiny new inspection sticker when it finally came back on.

    That and adulterating the gas (neither of which happens that often in this day and age) is why my parents always told me to go to gas stations I knew and trusted and try to use major chains when I was out of town so I could be more assured of quality. Not that you see that many non-chain gas stations anymore either! But I did have a friend get adulterated gas at a shady station and boy was that an MAJOR big deal when she reported it to the state.

  11. Anonymous says:

    meanwhile state and federal governments continue to rip consumers off with gas taxes. Gas taxes consistently exceed oil profits. But yay government for closing those stations…

  12. forgottenpassword says:

    The more clever cheater gas stations have switches that the attendant can turn on & off whenever they want. SO they can scope out & judge if the customer is from weights & measures or just a regular schlub. Its a cat & mouse game. The dept. of weights & measures (of most states) often have hidden gas tanks in their trunks to fool the gas station cheaters.

    If these guys who got caught were really cheaters then they were complete morons having ALL nozzles/pumps rigged.

  13. mike says:

    It’s a common misconception that the gas station owners make money hand over fist. They don’t. That’s why the “boycott gas for one day” doesn’t work.

    By the time the gas reaches the station, it’s already been purchased from Big Oil.

    If this was a scaling error, then they need to fix their pumps. If it was intentional, then let’s screw them to the wall.

  14. Hanke says:

    @sohmc: Boycott gas for one day doesn’t work because you’ll just buy it the next day, or the day before. It’s not like boycott Pepsi, which will work because you have a number of alternatives. If you boycott one oil company, it needs to be more than one day. But to not buy gas for one day, when there is no alternative, is ludicrous and accomplishes nothing.

  15. eliot99 says:

    I live and work in this town/city. I am also very close with one of the “anonymous” tipster that brought the inspectors to these stations. There is much more to this than the mainstream media is reporting, and the pump rigging goes back much further than 3 days. Inspectors have been given historical information on the magnitude of theft. Right now, inspectors can only go back 3 days because of their recent visit. How hard they will look and how in-depth their investigation will be, only time will tell. These stations do a huge volume of business. Reasonable sales estimates for these 2 stations is 100,000 gallons per day (diesel and unleaded combined).

  16. snoop-blog says:

    i wish my state could do that. but no, everyones in everyone else’s pocket over here.

  17. JustinAche says:

    I used to go to that station whenever I went up to Georgia…they always had cheap gas :(

  18. forever_knight says:

    @cunnij98: gas taxes pay for the roads you drive.

  19. JustAGuy2 says:

    @cunnij98:

    Gas taxes don’t come close to covering the true cost of gas. The US uses ~150BN gallons of gas a year. The war in Iraq is costing us $100BN+/year. We’d need a $0.67/gallon federal gas tax just to cover the Iraq war, while the Fed tax is $0.18/gallon.

    We need much HIGHER gas taxes to get people to (a) buy more fuel efficient cars and (b) drive less.

  20. chrisfromnl says:

    At first glance I thought the title read: “Two Georgia Gas Stations Closed For Shooting Customers”
    The real title isn’t nearly as attention grabbing.

  21. lincolnparadox says:

    @Hanke: I think that you’re onto something. If instead of boycotting gasoline for one day, what if everyone decided to boycott gas stations supplied by oil companies that are only interested in profiting from Americans. Companies that aren’t building new refineries or investing in new technology? Or that are shutting down their old refineries? Companies that have a strong stake in the automobile industry. Basically, support the oil companies that are using their profits to fix the system, rather than line their pockets.

    The problem with that is, I don’t think that would include any American oil companies.

    I think I’ll percolate on this for a bit…

  22. DJC says:

    Go to Europe and complain about the taxes on gas over there. We have it cheap over here.

  23. Anonymous says:

    @JustAGuy2: that’s a great idea; raise prices in order to force people to buy more efficient cars and drive less. Why not increase the gas tax to $500 a gallon? That would certainly cause people to drive less. Forcing a lower standard of living on a free people is a good idea why?

    And why stop at gas? Why not mandate more efficient tires or more aerodynamic shapes? Hey, here’s an idea; let the government make cars for us since they can do it so much better than the free market.

  24. mbz32190 says:

    I feel thus problem is more widespread than is reported…across the country. Think about it. Here in PA, they are checked only once a year. So if they are checked in January, they won’t be checked again until the following year…that is way too much time for something (either intentional or not) to happen to the pumps. Would twice a year be better? I don’t know.
    Weights and measures also checks the scales in the grocery store, and I know a few at my workplace had REJECTED notices on them for about a week…I wonder how much extra money the store made from the scales not being accurate (or lost if they weren’t weighing enough)

  25. GhettoGodfather says:

    I’m active military stationed in Italy. They pay a fortune here compared to the states. The local pump out on the economy sells regular unleaded at 1.46 (euros) per LITER. Euro to dollar brings this to $2.14 per liter… and lastly liter to gallon brings the overall price for fuel over here to….. $7.78 per gallon!! Germany wasn’t too far off last time I was there a month or so ago. I can only imagine what would happen if the prices in the states reached the prices the locals pay here.

  26. RevRagnarok says:

    I remember a while back some really smart folks here in MD got busted because the pump would not distribute in a linear fashion, but as an upward-sloping curve. So if you bought a half gallon, you really got like 0.4, at 90% you got like 85% but at one gallon you got one gallon. This was because they knew that the testers always used integer multiples – 1 gal, 5 gal, etc, and those were accurate.

  27. Major-General says:

    @JustAGuy2: I’m going to guess you’ve never lived in the Great Plains.

  28. swalve says:

    Darned Big Government!

    @RevRagnarok: That’s my kind of evil! Brilliant.

  29. rhombopteryx says:

    @cunnij98:
    As already pointed out, gas taxes pay for roads..i

    But even so, raising gas taxes to properly capture the cost of externalities isn’t bad – it’s the hallmark of fully-informed free market pricing. Raising them to the actual free-market level where they’d accurately reflect things like their own pollution would be a good first step, that way people wouldn’t over-consume what is effectively a commodity subsidized by the lung and heart damage of US citizens. If you buy into the evidence-based reality that gas burning has climate impacts too, you should probably tax gas to capture that impact too.

    Otherwise you must be one of those who support wasteful govt. subsidies, and hates the fully-informed free market’s ability to accurately set prices.

  30. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Major-General:

    Nope, never have. Doesn’t matter, though. Still no reason why I (a non-car-owning public transport rider) should subsidize the lifestyles of the people who do.

  31. JeffDrake says:

    Sweet! I grew up there, in Camden County. One of those stations was inbetween my house and my girlfriend’s, the other is like 3 blocks from the local high school. I was in HS from 99-2002, and I distinctly remember $0.79 gas at the station on Exit 1.

    No wonder they had such cheap prices

  32. Anonymous says:

    Amazing, finally a story from my city. I know this is from last year, but I am a avid reader and I was looking through some old scam posts. This was outrageous to all of the citizens of Camden County. I know I had personally visited the two stations for years to purchase gas, snacks and food. With gas prices already so high sometimes, this is like a punch to the gut.

    Updates news though. While they were reopened for a year, the St. Marys City Marshal was forcfed to make them close becuase their water was not on. (The service itself). I met the owners when I worked at the water department and I was not impressed.