Gas pumps and a potential scam

I once applied for a Weights & Measures Gas Pump Inspector’s job, here in Tennessee.

The Weights & Measures Section does handstands for glee if they catch somebody. The Secretary of Agriculture (the governing authority) buys free pizza/donuts/ misc eatible goodies if they catch X number of jerks per month. Or so I was told.

Nice enough to justify effort, not enough to justify fraud.

They do random inspections, too.

Not to mention that this is the kind of thing that gives consumer reporters woodies.
Can you even begin to comprehend the scandal this would cause?

Before we go much further here, can we do a little math? If gas is 2.00 per gallon then 1 penny buys 0.005 gallon. (1.000/2.00= 0.005). Or if you prefer 0.64 oz. So I would expect that that nice fancy digital pump would show that I had added 0.005 gallon before the price ticked over to the next penny. For the simple reason that gas does not cost 1 cent per .001 gallon (yet).
I suppose that you could always get an extra half an ounce for “free” every time you filled up if you were very very anal about it. Or you could take the position that sometimes I’ll get an extra half and ounce and sometimes I won’t, but in the long run, it all balances out.

I think that some people’s tin foil hats are slipping.

Certainly there is gas left in the line but the valve is in the handle. Lifting the hose to drain it won’t work since the handle itself stops the flow. The best you’ll get is the few drops left in the nozzle.

While we’re on the subject; has this ever happened to anyone?:

You very carefully measure out an exact value of fuel (in my case yesterday, £30.00 exactly), you release the trigger and check; the display reads £30.00, you hang up the nozzle and walk to the pay desk, the cashier asks you for £30.01.

This one happens to me quite a lot; I’ve never actually had the presence of mind to check the display after hanging up the nozzle, but I’m always very careful not to touch the trigger as I taker it out of the hole and hang it up.

On the pumps around here it always says if there is a difference between the pump and the cashier, the pump price will be used.

Mangetout, I used to live near a station that consistently showed a nickel or so more at the cashier than on the pump. I argued with the guy a couple of times, but got nowhere.

It was a petty scam. The Weights and Measures inspectors checked out the pumps, but not the readings at the register. The perps correctly surmised that most people wouldn’t argue too long over 5¢.

Mangetout, I used to live near a station that consistently showed a nickel or so more at the cashier than on the pump. I argued with the guy a couple of times, but got nowhere.

It was a petty scam. The Weights and Measures inspectors checked out the pumps, but not the readings at the register. The perps correctly surmised that most people wouldn’t argue too long over 5¢.

Speaking of scams…I’ve noticed something that kind of annoys me about some gas pumps in Arizona. Once you put your card in and it tells you to lift the pump and choose the gas, the prices blank out. I don’t know if that’s a scam so much as manipulating people who don’t pay attention…

I’m new to the biz, but have been working at a gas station for about 3 months. When people top off their tanks, AFTER the auto-stop stops the gas flow, gasoline crawls back up the boot (the accordion-like plastic on the nozzle) and up the hose. Every day, we must burp the nozzles, that is, drain the nozzles and hoses of this excess gas, by raising the hose and squeezing the boot. sometimes, our 24 hoses can yield as much as maybe a quart of gas after a day’s pumpage.


Early pumps were hand operated and had two glass containers, set about 6’ up. You started pumping with a lever and one of the bottles would start filling. When it was full it would automatically empty by gravity into the hose and the other bottle would start filling. In that case you wanted to empty the hose as the gas in there was yours. Maybe someone can find photos of the old pumps.

How much gasoline is in the hose/pump/machinery between the nozzle and source of gas? I always wonder this when I pay the extra cash for premium once in a while (the car recommends premium, but is officially “okay” on the cheaper stuff, so don’t waste your time telling me I’m stupid for putting in premium), i.e., if I buy one gallon of premium, but the previous customer bought super-value 86 octane (yeah, some stations do that!), what am I getting?

As for scams, though, I know my tank size. If the pump says I put 23 gallons into my tank, I’ll know something’s up! Like when I bought lawnmower gasoline the other day. Pumped the pump for exactly two gallons, but the gasoline can was about two inches short of the mark. Glad I didn’t complain, though, since the fill line I was looking at was for larger, imperial gallons, and I found the correct line when I got home. :slight_smile:

Do you not have completely separate nozzles for each grade of fuel in the US? We do here in the UK (and incidentally I’m getting mighty annoyed that 4-star (or Lead Replacement Petrol as it is now) seems to be disappearing at a fast rate of knots. Message to petrol stations: there are still loads of us driving old rustbuckets that don’t like unleaded!
[sub]Hell, my car is old enough that the radio doesn’t even have an FM waveband…[/sub]

I applied for that job locally.

I didn’t meet the height requirement.

I suggest that you go back and look real close at the pump the next time you buy gas. When you select a grade the prices for the other grades blank out so to prevent confusion.

What is “lead replacement petrol”?

Hard to believe you’re still permitted to use leaded petrol in the U.K.

I’ll verify that I know for a fact at my regular Shell station all of the prices blank out. I know this because I don’t comparison shop, and just go there automatically, and when I see the “price” increasing so much faster than the “gallons” I get curious about the price and have to try to look at the billboard which is out of sight thus the need to look at the other pumps if they’re not blocked by a vehicle and by the way forgive the run-on sentence.

No, we don’t have leaded petrol. Lead replacement petrol, or LRP, was brought in a few years back when leaded was phased out (in 2000, I believe). It contains an additive that is meant to mimic the protective and lubricating function of lead in the engine.

There’s a page about it at the AA (Automobile Association) site here - and it looks like I’m right: “Trends indicate that you won’t be able to find LRP from the end of 2003 except at a few specialist outlets hoping to keep something no-one else has.”

Back to the OP, the reason you might see the gallons counter increment without the price incrementing is just that those values are calculated internally with greater precision, and then rounded for the display. For example, if the price is $1.359 per gallon, and the gallons counter reads in 0.001 gallon increments. When its internal measurement (at a higher resolution) is at 14.7314 gallons, it will display 14.731, and the price will be $20.02. When you put in just a tad more, the internal counter will get to 14.7315 gallons, which will display as 14.732 assuming normal rounding is taking place, but the price will still show $20.02.

Nothing mysterious going on, just that the internal measurement is done at a higher resolution, and the display of gallons and price is rounded.

[not-so-sublte brain controlled voice]

Thanks for all the responses I think CurtC has effectivly explained what I was seeing.

Iam certain that the amount of gas dispensed is equal to the guage’s display

drive more, spend more

thank you that is all

[/not-so-subtle brain controlled voice]

Nobody paid any attention at all to ChryslerBldg’s post, did you?
The pump is underground, inna tank. The thingie with the hose, where you get your free 1/100th of a gallon of gas, is a dispenser.
I’ve been fighting this little piece of ignorance here forever.
Ask Cecil, fer crissakes!