Pain at the pumps

Free gas? We might have to move CMG's HQ to China.
Unreasonably high prices aren't the only way you're getting ripped off at the pumps, according to CBC.

You’re getting ripped off at the fuel pumps, according to CBC.

Of course, that comes as no news to motorists sick of constantly fluctuating gas prices that constantly trend higher and higher, but government data acquired by CBC isn’t addressing that issue. Instead, the numbers they have show that motorists are frequently paying for gas they don’t receive, due to inaccurate gas pumps.

According to the article, six per cent of gas pumps tested across Canada over the past two and a half years didn’t dispense the amount of fuel indicated on the pump. Sometimes the error was in favour of the customer, but usually – about two-thirds of the time – the customer received less gas than they paid for.

It’s usually only a trifling pennies per tank, but across the country, Measurement Canada figures drivers got $12 million worth of gas for free due to faulty pumps – and paid out over $20 million for gas they didn’t receive. The stats indicate that Canadians get stiffed once every 25 fill-ups, and get more than they paid for once every 50 fill-ups.

PEI has the highest ratio of inaccurate gas pumps at 33 per cent, but the government only surveyed six pumps in that province. The next worse was Newfoundland and Labrador, with nine per cent of 962 pumps reading inaccurately. The best was Alberta, with only four per cent of 3,804 pumps reading inaccurately. Saskatchewan had the highest ratio of pumps favouring the retailer, at 0.83 per cent, and Nova Scotia had the most pumps favouring the customer, at 0.54 per cent.

Of course, consumer groups are up in arms, while oil companies are pointing out their measurement standards, despite the discrepancies, are still higher than any other sector gauged by Measurement Canada.

Still, this is just one more reason to go ride your motorcycle, and burn less fuel to start with. It’s hard to get ripped off for something you aren’t even buying.


  1. When you put the pump hose in your filler hole, the pump resets to zero.  When you squeeze the lever, the count starts as the gas leaves the hose.  When you stop pumping, the gas in the hose stays there for the next time the pump resets to zero and starts again.

    I think the big question would be, does the hose change size through the day?  As the sun hits the black hose, does it’s inside diameter shrink or expand?  When you start pumping cold underground gas through that warm/hot hose, does that change the size of the hose?

    As for what’s there from the last customer, if you get a couple mls from the end of the handle you’re lucky, I always let it drain for 5-10 seconds when I’m done, and as is good practice with every hose, give it a good shake before putting it away.

    Check the pump’s accuracy?  Slow or stop when the pump has delivered 10.0 litres, and check the cost vs. the price of the gas…

  2. What I would like to know is when buying high test, on a pump with a single hose, how much regular do you pump first, left in the hose from the customer before you ?

  3. Well, it would probably cost more than that to test every pump every year according to Weights and Measures standards.  Charge the gas companies and the cost will get passed on to consumers.  So what do you want – reasonably accurate pumps that sometimes err in your favour and twice as often err against you, or to pay for more enforcement?  Which costs will, as I mentioned, simply be passed down.

    As for the motorcycle option, I think it burns about the same amount as my car, albeit not in as fun a fashion.

  4. I always wondered why gas companies never bothered collecting that extra penny almost everyone overshoots when filling up. Now I know. 

    • Where do you buy your gas, Costa?
      I’ve been charged the extra penny every single time for at least the last 15 years.
      At least I won’t have the burden of guilt when Esso or Petro-Can goes bankrupt…haha.

  5. How are the pumps calibrated and inspected ? Is it a fairly simple process or does it require civil (simple) servant intervention ?

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