Wisconsin fuel service fined after customers were overcharged for gas
By Jenna Rae,2023-06-08
When you pump gas, are you checking your total to make sure you got your money's worth? You may want to start. The state fined a gas service company for overcharging at a Menomonee Falls gas station.
It's the Woodman's right off Highway 145, near Bradley Road.
"I did realize they were a little cheaper than closer to my job, that's kind of why I came to get gas over here," customer Deanna Preston said.
Another customer, Angie Garcia, had a similar story.
"My husband and son-in-law say 'oh go to Woodman's, it's always cheap'," Garcia explained.
But are you getting the right amount of gas for that price?
Last August, the state claimed it found some meters, at this particular Woodman's, were over-reporting usage. That means, drivers paid full price for gas, but got less than what was paid for.
"I can't believe that," Garcia said.
"You would think you'd be getting the amount that you're paying for. So yeah, I find that crazy you're not," Preston added.
On Aug. 16, 2022, the state's Weights and Measurements Bureau, which is under the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), sampled 60 gasoline dispensers at that Woodman's. Court documents show 56 of the 60 meters were over-reporting.
DATCP ordered the station's service technician, Northwest Petroleum Service, to correct the meters within two weeks.
On Aug. 29, DATCP went back to inspect the pumps and found a majority of the meters sampled were still over-reporting.
"We have seen times where there's been multiple occurrences of non-compliance. We then elevate our enforcement efforts much more from a warning letter or red tag, up to possibly a civil forfeiture," Joe Smith explained.
Smith is the director of the state's Weights and Measurements Bureau. He couldn't comment on this specific case.
However, court documents show DATCP ordered a civil forfeiture against Northwest Petroleum Service after they allegedly failed to fix the over-reporting pumps. This means, Northwest Petroleum was fined and accused of violating state laws for over-charging customers for gas.
"These devices are very accurate. We don't know when they might have been tampered with or altered. We only know when we test the device, at that moment, how inaccurate it is. It would be extremely difficult to give a good estimate of how much consumer harm has been done," Smith said.
Smith told the I-Team pumps across the state are inspected every one to two years. He said consumers should check pumps for a sticker from the state or local weights and measurements team to see when it was last inspected. If there's a concern at a pump or gas station, you can submit a claim here .
Northwest Petroleum paid the state more than $2,200 in penalties. Despite that fine, court documents also show the company doesn't admit it violated any state laws.
We reached out to the company and never heard back. We have been in touch with Woodman's and are waiting for the response.
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