Gas stations must display full price
A gas station in Hawaii Kai has made it a practice to omit the third numeral on the price of midlevel gas. So where it would say "$2.54" it says "$2.5." Can you look into this?
Answer: An inspector from the state Department of Agriculture's Measurement Standards Branch checked the station shortly after you contacted us.
"We did not have problems with any of the displays, either with the sign or the actual pumps themselves," said William Pierpont, branch manager. The inspector did not find "any indicators, numbers or price displays that were missing a full digit."
If it involved a sign, it could be that the number was blown off or that somebody hadn't yet put up the third digit because the price was changing, he said.
The state's concern would be about any misrepresentation in the price of the gas.
"As long as the price on the sign is the same as or more than what's on the pump, it's allowable," Pierpont said. "That allows for changing of the price."
Meanwhile, it really doesn't matter what grade of gas is being purchased, the number of digits indicating the cost of the gas being pumped would be the same for all grades, he said.
"The requirement on the pump is that when it's displaying the price, it should be the full amount," he said. "If they're only displaying '$2.5' based on the grade, then that is not correct."
The missing digit might not affect accuracy, but disclosure of the full price is an "attribute" that should be working correctly on a pump.
"If it's not, then it would be enough for us to reject the pump so that it's repaired, because it should disclose the full amount of the price," he said.
He explained that "when we inspect the pump, we look to make sure that the device is appropriate, that it's been installed correctly and that it's delivering accurately. In the context of it delivering accurately is that the price being paid is clearly indicated, the octane is indicated, that the counter both for the gallons delivered and the price per gallon is accurate and legible."
Other "attributes" inspected include whether the hose is unduly worn or crushed and if the stop valves are working, allowing the pump to automatically shut off when the tank is filled.
The Measurement Standards Branch relies on inspections and public reports to catch any problems. It also is a business owner's responsibility to ensure that their pumps are working correctly and in good repair, Pierpont said.
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