Consumers Concerned Over Gas Pump Discrepancies in Maine; Was it a Scam or a Simple Mistake?

Posted by kate kastelein

When Maine consumers learned about the Department of Agriculture’s Quality Assurance and Regulation division’s discovery of a large gas station overcharging customers, they were horrified. Calls flooded the department as well as the offices of state representatives.

However, after contacting Hal Prince, Director of the Maine Division of Quality Assurance and Regulation, New England Post found that the actual transgressions were not as sinister as they appeared at first glance.

“There were 12 pumps, with 6 out of tolerance. 4 were under delivering and 2 were over-delivering.” said Prince. He went on to say that the department did not believe the discrepancies were intentional, especially since the pumps over-delivering basically canceled out any profit that would have been gained from the under-delivering pumps.

Quality Assurance is the largest division in the Department of Agriculture and oversees 15 programs. According to the state’s website, “The Division ensures that a safe, high quality food supply is maintained, that weighing and measuring devices used in commerce are correct, and that standards used in law enforcement are properly calibrated and accurate.”  This is an enormous task and some areas, like gas pumps, are inspected randomly instead of annually.

When asked about Governor LePage’s plan to merge the Department of Agriculture with the Department of Conservation, Prince said that, “We already work with Conservation on issues like commercial wood theft.  It (the merger) would be a good thing, a pooling of resources.”  

New England Post also spoke with employees and customers at Skip Cahill Tire in Edgecomb. When asked if the state should switch from random to yearly monitoring of gas pumps, employee Andy Andrews said, “It doesn’t really matter to us, but the way they do it now is fine.”

A customer pointed out that with gas prices so high, a lot of people keep track of their gas mileage on their own, which he said, “would probably keep a lot of places honest.”

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Posted by kate kastelein on Oct 13 2011. Filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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