By JLP | July 28, 2006
Smart Money’s August issue has Ten Things Your Gas Station Won’t Tell You. The two that got my attention:
4. “If you’re smart, you’ll put that debit card away…”
Your debit card might be a convenient way to pay for gas, but it’s a no-win proposition. When you swipe a debit card at the pump, the bank doesn’t know how much money you’ll be spending until you’ve finished pumping. So to make sure you have the funds to cover the purchase, some stations ask banks to automatically set aside some of your money: That amount used to be $20, but with gas prices going up, stations have started asking banks to hold $50, even $100. That means even if you just topped off your tank for $10, you could be out $100 until the station sends over its bulk transactions, which can take up to three days. If your funds are running low, you might end up bouncing a check in the meantime — even though you had the money in your account.
I’m a huge debit card user. I use my debit card for practically everything. Although I have heard of this happening, I have never experienced this. Have any of you experienced this?
7. “It’s a gallon when I say it’s a gallon.”
It’s hard to know if you’re getting all the gas you paid for at the pump. But in some places there’s a very good chance you’re not. The state or county weights-and-measures department usually checks pumps for accuracy, but in some areas it can be years between inspections. Arizona, for example, has only 18 staff members to check the state’s 2,300 stations. That means stations there can expect a visit once every three to four years, according to Steve Meissner, an Arizona Department of Weights and Measures spokesperson. Last year 30% of the more than 2,000 complaints the department received were valid, and it levied $167,000 in fines.
I have ALWAYS wondered about this (especially when using those old-fashioned pumps). I remember putting in 1.2 gallons of gas into a one gallon container. I didn’t give it much thought because I figured they made the container bigger to help prevent over-filling. But, it still made me wonder…