Mechanical pumps can't take prices past $3.99 - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mechanical pumps can't take prices past $3.99

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Lee Buckley is one of the few people who repairs these old pumps... Lee Buckley is one of the few people who repairs these old pumps...

May 13, 2008

Albany-  More painful record gas prices Tuesday. The Georgia average jumped three cents overnight and topped $3.70 for the first time. According to AAA, right here in Albany, you'll pay an average of $3.69 for regular unleaded. If you want premium, it'll cost you $4.14.

Just a month ago, regular gas in Albany was 37 cents cheaper than it is today. Be glad you don't drive a big rig. Diesel is now a whopping $4.35 a gallon. Department of Agriculture inspectors regular check the pumps to make sure they're properly calibrated so you'll get every drop you pay for.

If you find a problem at the pump, they encourage you to file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture.

Some gas pumps simply can't handle these record high gas prices. Thousands of the old mechanical dial pumps won't register past $3.99. The price spike caught some stations off guard. Now, They're having trouble fixing the problem because there's a backlog for replacement parts.

It's costing you a small fortune to fill up your car and now the higher price per gallon could prove costly for owners of small gas stations with mechanical pumps who never dreamed gas prices would hit four dollars.

"I never though it would so, I don't think anyone else would either," said Ricky Hunt, Gieryic's Citgo.

The problem is most mechanical pumps can't register more than $3.99 a gallon on their spinning dials. At the Chevron on North Slappey, premium is at the limit and station attendants weren't sure what happens next.

"As it continues to climb store owners are going to have to actually replace parts outside," said Lee Buckley, MECO, Albany.

Lee Buckley is one of the few people who repairs these old pumps in Albany and says the replacement will prove costly and maybe difficult for stations to recoup.

"It's not really a repair it's a replacement of a part, double, it's actually double, we're talking double the cost to stay up with the times as far as the price per gallon," said Buckley.

"$400.00 times twelve dispensers we have, you're talking close to $5,000," said Hunt.

As prices continue to climb and station owners work feverishly to keep the dials spinning they may run into another problem, the parts they need are now backlogged.

"It's an actual replacement of the computer that calculates it for us," said Buckley.

The station managers we talked to say they'll do what they can to, keep the pumps running and keep them accurate.

As a temporary fix, some stations may do what's called half-pricing. Their meters will display half the cost of a gallon of gas. They'll double your total when you walk in to pay. Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin says that will be permitted in Georgia as long as stations have adequate signage on the pump that explains what's happening.

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