Are you getting what you pay for at the pump?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – We all know that getting gas can be quite hard on the wallet these days, but the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures say even though drivers are paying quite a bit, they’re mostly getting all the gas they should be.

According to the department’s annual gas-pump inspection results, 3.6 percent of Arizona’s gas pumps failed to deliver as much fuel as the consumer paid for.

“Arizona consumers buy more than 2.6 million gallons of gasoline each day,” said Kevin Tyne, director of the Dept. of Weights and Measures, in a news release. “These statewide results collected over the past year indicate that the gas pump dispensers at Arizona service stations are predominantly correct, and customers are getting what they pay for.”

Field investigators spent past year (July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011) conducting 1,714 inspections at gas stations throughout Arizona. During those inspections, they tested 15,773 gas pumps.

While 1,000 of those dispensers did not meet state compliance standards, only 575 of those failures dinged consumers. The other 425 instances were actually in favor of the consumer as those pumps dispensed more fuel than what the display showed.

The Arizona Department of Weights and Measures broke down the cases in which the consumers didn’t get what they paid for.

In 213 cases, the pumps shorted the customer by dispensing less gas that what was on the readout.

In 194 instances, the dispenser did not start at zero. This is known as “meter jump.”

In the remaining 169 cases, the dispenser racked up charges but did not dispense the fuel to go with those charges. That is call “meter creep.”

The department said it received 1,102 complaints from customers about the accuracy of gas pumps over the past year. Tyne said each one of those complaints was investigated. Field officers confirmed 12 percent of the complaints and alerted the offending stations about the problem.

In addition to investigating consumer complaints and conducting its annual survey, the department also handed out 326 violation notices to stations not meeting fueling requirements. Those violations totaled nearly $244,500 in fines.