This Just In: May 13 - 20 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Won't Get Fueled Again!

Summary: A special "Target 11" segment about how gas stations could be ripping you off! Reporter: Robin Taylor, WPXI Channel 11 Airtime: 3 minutes, 15 seconds on May 7 Highlights: * When Taylor warns us, "I found a fuel pump that was so inaccurate it had to be taken out of service. And that is not unusual. In Pennsylvania, gas pumps are inspected once a year. But in between, they can go bad." * When she adds, "[These two women] are inspectors with [the Bureau of] Weights and Measures in Westmoreland County. And their job is to make sure you're not getting ripped off. They investigate every complaint, making sure a gallon of gas is really a gallon." * When a male customer insists, "There's been instances I have not got a true measure. I'm positive of it." * When one of the inspectors says, "Most stations are in compliance." * When Taylor quickly rolls past that inconvenient fact: "But daily wear and tear can take a toll on the pumps, leaving them inaccurate. And that can cut into a station's profit or, short a customer." * When the inspector adds, "If a pump is bad -- say like it's, ah, really bad -- then we red-tag it." * When a female in the process of pumping gas rants, "It's not fair to the customer if it's all to the negative." * When a man pumping gas opines, "I've never had a problem where I felt I was shorted. You gotta have some faith in people." * When Taylor quickly chimes in, "True. But the pump this customer's using just failed inspection. It wasn't terribly bad, but it was off enough that it needs to be recalibrated." * When Taylor attempts to relate to us: "I think we've all experienced this: You get a pump that's really, really slow. Well, I finally know why. And the answer is in here." (Oh, I cannot wait ... ) * When the inspector tells us, "Sometimes, you'll find a pump that runs really, really slow. And that means the filter might need changed, that's all." * When Taylor reports (pay attention to this part), "When a pump goes bad, it usually benefits the customer -- but not always. Take a look at this gauge: It shows this diesel pump is way off." (She reports by 4 percent). * When Taylor tells us, "Both Westmoreland and Allegheny counties do their own inspections. They say about 5 percent of the pumps fail." What We Learned: If you're that concerned about what you spend on gas, the answer might be to cut your damn driving time, or reconsider that SUV on steroids. Unanswered Question: If Westmoreland County only needs two inspectors to investigate every complaint about pumps, isn't it possible there aren't a whole lot of complaints? News Value: 1. This is a perennial sweeps-month favorite. Taylor's findings don't merit some big-time "investigation," but since local news aims to jerk the knee, the teasers can be irresistible. The gas stations have seven days to correct their problems. If only TV news broadcasts were under a similar deadline.

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