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As the gas station manager watched nervously, government agents tested for water in the gas and checked whether the pump was calibrated correctly.
Such was the drama that unfolded last week at the Shell Station, 112 Atlantic Avenue and Henry Street, when the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) descended on the gas station to showcase how they diligently check to make sure consumers their money’s worth of gas.
“The cost of gasoline may be out of control, but making sure that New Yorkers get what they pay for isn’t,” said DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.
While the Shell Station’s pumps and gas⁄water ratio checked out properly, they were issued a summons to change their sign advertising the gas because it listed only the cash prices per gallon.
For example, the price advertised on the sign was $2.99 per gallon of regular gas. While this price is honest if a consumer pays cash, those with credit cards are charged $3.07 per gallon.
Mintz said the law states that the gas signs must list both or the higher of the two prices.
The DCA invited the media to the surprise inspection to highlight that although the price of gas, which on average is $2.81 per gallon, may be lower than it was last summer, consumer complaints of suspected rigging of the pumps are up 40 percent citywide.
Mintz said in the past year the DCA performed more than 1,800 gas station inspections, including more than 12,000 individual pumps throughout the five boroughs.
The checks revealed a 98 percent compliance rate as the DCA condemned 227 gas pumps for inaccurately dispensing fuel.
When such a gas pump is found to be inaccurate, they are shut down immediately and the station owner has five days to fix the problem and faces fines as high as $10,000, Mintz said.
Additionally, pumps that fail inspection are routed for follow−up inspections, he added.
Mintz said that thus far only one Brooklyn gas station has been found to have faulty pumps − the Emporium Gas Station at 354 Hamilton Avenue off Court Street in Gowanus.
The pumps were found to be faulty last year, and since then have passed every inspection, he said.
“Consumer Affairs inspectors are out there every day making sure that gas pumps are working properly, and with such high compliance rates, gas station owners have clearly gotten the message,” Mintz said.
DCA also performs inspections based upon consumer complaints and urged consumers to call 311 or file their complaints at www.nyc.gov⁄consumers.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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