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Bad gas pumps?
March 1, 2007 8:11 AM   Subscribe

To whom do I report a gas station that I suspect has inaccurate gas pumps in Toronto, Ontario?

My google-fu is weak, and I also don't know if it's a federal, provincial or municipal issue.

I predict to myself how much gas I'm going to need to fill my tank each time I fill it up, and I am within a liter of being correct 95% of the time. Today, based on how far I had driven and what my tank showed, I mentally guessed 30liters. At 34 liters, I finally gave up, because I was beginning to worry that there was something wrong with the auto shut-off on the pump. At 34 liters, the gas gauge still didn't show as completely full when I turned on the car.

I can believe it's possible that I was off by 4 liters in my guess, but I simply can't believe I was off by more than that--which I'd have to have been for my tank to not be filled by the 34 liters. The most gas I've *ever* put in my car is 38 liters, and that time the "you're nearly out of gas, idiot" light had been on for the last few miles. In this case, my gas gauge was still showing as me having more than a quarter of a tank.
posted by jacquilynne to Law & Government (15 answers total)
 
Usually it's a weights & measures department. Try this to start.
posted by zek at 8:17 AM on March 1, 2007


Usually there's a sticker on the pump that says who certified the pump, w/ a phone #.
posted by smackfu at 8:19 AM on March 1, 2007


You may also try the Ontario volumetric specialist for Measurement Canada who, given his (awe-inspiringly great) title, should at least be able to point you in the right direction.

Fun fact: Gasoline in Canada appears to be sold not by volume, a la the US, but by inferred mass. Thus, there's two separate calibrations (volume and temperature) that could cause the pump to be off.
posted by backupjesus at 8:29 AM on March 1, 2007


Did the price ring up as 34 * price_per_liter? Maybe it was just the display that was wrong (I'm thinking of those old-style rotating ones), not the measurement.
posted by DU at 8:31 AM on March 1, 2007


Mearsurement Canada has a dispute/complaints page here.
You can try them.
posted by reformedjerk at 8:33 AM on March 1, 2007


On second thought, gas pumps in Canadia are probably telepathic or some other awesome thing, not like the crap we always have down here.
posted by DU at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2007


Unfortunately, the complaints form on the Measurement Canada site seems to be only for complaints about residential gas and electric meters. I'm going to use their general inquiries form to ask about submitting a complaint about the gas station.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:38 AM on March 1, 2007


You should probably do a more scientific check before filing a report. Get a gas can that holds a known amount, and fill it. Not perfectly accurate, but certainly more so than any estimated mental guess you might make.
posted by friezer at 8:59 AM on March 1, 2007


There are two departments you can enquire to:

The Competition Bureau

and

Weights and Measures Canada (see above).

The Competition Bureau deals with fraud (related) cases.
posted by pezdacanuck at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2007


There is an interesting article about the part of the Dept of Agriculture that tests pumps in Michigan. It doesn't cover your area, but does describe the job a bit and how they do it.

Incidentally, I've heard somewhere that there once was a case where computerized pumps were programmed to measure out the first gallon of two correctly, and then short the rest of the gallons after that. When the Weights and Measures people come and measure the gas, they do so in small containers. I don't know if it's just criminal legend, but it's quite a clever way to cheat customers.
posted by lockle at 9:30 AM on March 1, 2007


You should probably do a more scientific check before filing a report. Get a gas can that holds a known amount, and fill it.

I'm not trying to sue them, wanting to ask for money back or looking for compensation. I think it's possible that these gas pumps are inaccurate, and I'd like to find the agency responsible for inspecting them, and ask them to, you know, inspect them. If the agency finds out they're accurate, then, well, I guess I was wrong and that should be the end of that.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:31 AM on March 1, 2007


I'm not trying to sue them, wanting to ask for money back or looking for compensation. I think it's possible that these gas pumps are inaccurate, and I'd like to find the agency responsible for inspecting them, and ask them to, you know, inspect them. If the agency finds out they're accurate, then, well, I guess I was wrong and that should be the end of that.

But if you do what friezer is suggesting, then you will
a.) have something concrete to report rather than "Oh mister, I always guess what goes into my tank accurately, so you know the pump must be wrong"
or b.) know that you were wrong.
posted by milarepa at 9:59 AM on March 1, 2007


Don't forget to account for temperature. The "litres delivered" reading on the pump is only accurate at 15 degrees Celsius. Your gas gauge isn't calibrated for exact readings, but it too will read differently at different temperatures.

So that means that the 34L you put in the tank may have only been 32L or so. It also means that your gas gauge might read a few litres high, so that when it looks like you can fit 30L in you can actually fit 32, and so on. Doubly so if last time around you filled when it was -20 C instead of -3 C, since that would calibrate your own feel for how much gas you used even further in the wrong direction.
posted by mendel at 10:19 AM on March 1, 2007


Yes, and to determine those things, I would have to buy a gas can, and purchase $10 worth of gas that might not actually be worth $10. We have government agencies whose job it is to own that equipment and do those tests, and I don't see any particular value in me purchasing the equipment and doing the tests myself. Maybe I'd make the complaint and it'd get ignored because I have no proof, I dunno.

It's not a gas station I've ever been to before, and not one I'll ever return to again when two thirds of the gas stations in Toronto aren't closed (because in addition to the likelihood that their pumps are inaccurate, they don't offer EasyPay, and I'm quite fond of waving my keys at the pump to pay for my gas). If it's not as simple as firing off a web form I'm probably not that interested. I'm not on a noble crusade to right wrongs, I just thought there'd be a way I could email someone about this and have them check it out.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:26 AM on March 1, 2007


Volume checking of pumps in Ontario seems to be a provincial matter administered by the ministry of Finance. They certainly are the government agency responsible for sending inspectors to check the pumps. Try this number:

1 800 263-7965

that's the general inquiry line for the (Ontario) Ministry of Finance.

The (federal) Competition Bureau, mentioned above, is concerned with price fixing. I don't think they're the right people to go to with this. Measurement Canada devolves their responsibility to the Competition Bureau, so I'd doubt you'ld have much luck there. MC is primarily about high-quality calibration and metrology. They serve as Canada's primary reference for measurement and certification body. They would not be responsible for end-use calibration.
posted by bonehead at 10:38 AM on March 1, 2007


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