Higher gas prices mean more complaints - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Higher gas prices mean more complaints

May 21, 2008

Albany-  Regular unleaded gasoline is now $4.09 in metro Atlanta.

It's not that high here yet, but it did go up a nickel overnight. People are just plain unhappy about it, and complaints are pouring in. Now, the Agriculture Department is cracking down. Some pumps have been locked for leaking nozzles, damaged displays, and shorting customers.

With a gallon of gas now up to $3.82 in Albany, it's not surprising everyone has a gas complaint.

"It makes it hard to get by these days," said Michael Blanton, a motorist.

"The price is too expensive," said Marilyn Daniel, a motorist.

"Lack of conscious on the part of our leaders in Washington," said Dot Rainey, a motorist.

The Department of Agriculture, which monitors pumps, has fielded 200 more complaints than this time last year. When inspectors found a station in Southeast Georgia along I-95 was stealing a quart for every five gallons pumped they locked down the pumps and they promise to do the same at other stations that cheat customers. The high prices have customers in Albany checking so they don't get shorted.

"I kind of do the math some times but at $3.82 a gallon," said David Barnes, a motorist.

They want to make sure they're getting what they've paid for. Pumps here in Albany are checked for calibration every two months.

"Over time with wear and age they do get out of calibration," said Wright Woodall, Woodall's owner.

Surprisingly when pumps are out of sync, it's usually in the customers favor.

"We don't want a customer to be short changed at the pump and on the flip side we don't want to pump more gas that we should be at the price we're selling it for," said Woodall.

Complaints have run the gamut, some about the wrong octane some about watered down gasoline. The good news is only about five percent of complaints about the shorting of gas turn out to be true, offering a little comfort when you're paying out more of your hard earned money to keep driving.

If you notice a problem at the pumps, the Department of Agriculture encourages you to report it. You need to know the name of the station, its address, and you should also get the pump number. Consumers can call 1-800-282-5852.

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