Ten Things Your Gas Station Won’t Tell You

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 รขโ‚ฌโ€ 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…

7 thoughts on “Ten Things Your Gas Station Won’t Tell You”

  1. As the daughter of a long time gas station owner, and a former store manager, ALWAYS CHECK FOR A CURRENT CERTIFICATION STICKER. No kidding. While you are waiting for the tank to fill, check the sticker for a date. Usually the weights and measures people certify all the pumps at once. (It’s like rebalancing a scale before you weigh yourself.)

    I find it shocking that the state of Arizona doesn’t do it by county. Maybe it’s an east coast thing, but around where I grew up and where I live, it’s a County Weights and Measures office that handles it. They certify pumps and food scales used for trade at the grocer, etc.

    I disagree with a lot of stuff in the article, but I agree with most of it. It’s a funny business and one that gets people really insanely crazy when prices go up.

  2. Many times Gas stations actually lose money by selling gas.

    Where I live almost everyone sells the gas for the same price, if there is a difference, it has a huge effect on where people go.

    They make the money back by selling the products inside the store.

  3. About the one gallon being one gallon – I just got checked for this at the station I run, it’s been 8 months since the last time. And from records left by the previous owner, it was only 8 months prior to that. This most recent event was due to a customer complaint, they claimed we were selling less fuel than displayed. When W&M came out to the pumps, they discovered – to my bemusement – that we were pumping more gas than displayed, 1.07 gallons per gallon. This doesn’t seem like much, but it explains the discrepancies in my fuel reports, and all the complaints from my accountant. Now I just wish I could find the person who complained and let them know they owe me money. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I got $20.00 at a Sunoco & they put a hold for 100.00 . I think this is credit fraud. They shound know what the amount of gas becase its a computer. THIS IS BULL .

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