If a gas pump ever accidentally charges you $502.55 for 17 gallons of gas, you’d expect to be able to quickly and easily challenge that charge with your credit card. Unfortunately for James Maddux of Collinsville, OK, it wasn’t that simple.
It gives you a sinking feeling when the gas tank is on empty and filling up will cost more than fifty bucks. James Maddux was prepared for that when he pulled up to pump number six at Miller’s Sinclair Station in Collinsville. He pumped $52.54 worth of gasoline into his tank. But he had to pay $502.55 for 17 and a half gallons of gasoline. He says “That’s just the way it worked out and unfortunately I got zapped.”
The receipt clearly shows the simple math mistake. 17 and a half gallons of gas at $2.999 a gallon came to a heart-stopping $502.55
Getting the charges reversed should have been as easy as faxing the receipt to Discover, but of course it wasn’t. The charge kept getting reserved and then reassessed over and over again, until Mr. Maddux finally reported his issue to the president of the local BBB. The BBB president told the local media and Mr. Maddux finally got some answers after four months of arguing with Discover.
Beyond the proof in black and white we took a camera to pump number six at Miller’s station. Brinkley begins to fill up, then, the pump automatically shuts off at 75-dollars. It’s physically impossible to pump a drop, or a penny, more in without re-swiping the credit card. Brinkley says “So it’s going to be really hard for anyone to justify a bill of $502.”
Lowry [consumer reporter for KJRH] contacted both Sinclair Oil and Discover Card with the proof and Maddux says in less than a week “It happened pretty quick.” He got a call from Mark Courtney, the owner of Miller’s Sinclair station, asking him to come pick up a check, for $450.01
A Sinclair Oil spokesperson says the company was never told there was a dispute over the amount charged to Maddux’s card, only whether his card was used at pump number six. That’s what they confirmed to Discover.
Consumers should keep in mind that if they are ever overcharged or notice any irregularities at a gas station they can contact their state’s Department of Weights and Measures. You’d be surprised at the consumer heroics that may ensue. Tell ‘em The Consumerist sent you.