Petrol pump paranoia rife, says AA

Petrol pump paranoia rife, says AA
Rising fuel prices are causing paranoia amongst cash-strapped motorists who believe they are being cheated at the pumps, according to a new report from the AA.
However, overly-suspicious drivers reporting petrol stations to Trading Standards may be shooting themselves in the foot. As a recent AA ‘dip check’ of a “handful” of petrol stations revealed, many forecourts are in fact over-dispensing fuel – with some pumps giving up to 4.4% more than the counter indicates – roughly a 6 pence per litre bonus for recession-hit drivers.
According to the AA, rather than unchecked philanthropy on the part of petrol station owners, such discrepancies are partly down to EU moves to harmonise fuel measuring, meaning that some forecourts now have a mix of old and new pumps.
It’s the older equipment that can have a tendency to dispense more fuel than the counter indicates, with one supermarket chain last year announcing it was struggling to stem a £500,000-a-year loss as a result of trying to meet the new legislation.
Record fuel prices aren’t helping either. Research by the AA and Populus found that one of the factors causing motorists’ suspicion is the tendency to spend a pre-set figure on fuel each time they visit a petrol station – with 28% of AA members apparently trying to budget their fuel spend this way.
That makes diminishing returns a common gripe – particularly set against the record prices of 148.42p per litre for petrol seen earlier this year.
AA president, Edmund King:
“Following concern from members, the AA carried out preliminary tests at a handful of fuel stations to see if there were grounds for a more comprehensive survey. Not only did all the pumps dispense at least the right amount, but most gave even more.”
Trading Standards tested over 600 pump nozzles in Cumbria, Newport and Derby – with discrepancies found on a total of 17 pumps – one of which was providing more fuel than indicated.
The AA president also warned against drivers relying on the fuel needle to accurately judge whether the petrol pumps are playing fair:
“Trading Standards warn that some drivers compare the fuel volume showing at the pump with what they can read off their in-car instruments, although the latter are designed purely as a guide. Consequently, there is an irony that some drivers who complain may be acting against their own interests.”
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