As if gasoline is not expensive enough, imagine paying for a fill-up and before squeezing the pump nozzle, the meter starts running.
That is exactly what happened to a customer at the Arco gas station off Washington Street in La Quinta. Christie Ramirez was taking care of Saturday errands when she noticed her gas level was on empty, so she decided to pull-up to the nearest gas station.
She said she paid the clerk $10 and returned to pump nine and selected her grade and shoved the nozzle into her van. She said she did not immediately pushed the handle because she wanted to finish eating a snack, but when she looked at the pump it had begun charging.
“I just couldn’t believe that it started charging me,” Ramirez said. “Gas is so expensive already we can hardly afford it and then to be overcharged it is really kind of upsetting.”
Ramirez sent KMIR News a video taken on her phone of the pump charging her without pumping gas, it went up to 23 cents.
She said, “I went in to tell the clerk and I had the feeling when he reset the pump to just video tape that it was going to happen again and it did.”
She said it happened twice and by the third time she switched to a different pump, and it charged the appropriate amount.
According to the Riverside County Weights and Measures, if a machine is faulty the gas station should shut the pump down immediately.
The deputy commissioner of the county office, Michele Tracy said, “Pumps are not to move as far as the register or digital display unless activated by the customer other than to return to zero.”
Ramirez said she returned about five hours later to see if the pump was still in service and it was, “I thought I would drive by and see if there was an out of order sign but there was still no out of order sign.”
The owner of the gas station said he was not aware of the problem with the pump until KMIR News brought up the issue, he said he will keep pump nine out of service until an inspector checks it.