LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A team of inspectors is routinely checking gas stations across southern Nevada for fuel quality and meter compliance – what they found in the past year may surprise you.
Ten inspectors work through the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Measurement Standards to test every station once a year, Kipp Blauer, a supervisor with the group, said.
“If they’re driving to a station and they feel like haven’t been there they’ll just pop in and say, ‘Hi, I’m here,” Blauer said.
The goal is for an inspector to visit each station once a year. They will also head out if a consumer filed a complaint.
The 8 News Now Investigators reviewed consumer complaints filed with the department from July 2021 to June 2022 – when gas prices hit their peak of $5.61 for a gallon of regular.
Out of more than 108 complaints, 35 involved the accuracy of a gas pump’s meter – the device that measures how much gas is going into your tank and how much to charge the customer.
Oftentimes, issues involving a meter are in the customer’s favor, Blauer said.
“Meters that are either giving fuel away or holding fuel — mostly it’s giving fuel away when it wears out,” he said. “It goes to the benefit of the consumer.”
Out of those 35 meter-related complaints, inspectors found just one pump with a problem, meaning it was out of compliance.
The Investigators sampled gas from 12 stations across the valley. Reporter David Charns and photojournalist Matt Adams collected a tiny amount of mid-grade gasoline from each station and then transferred the samples to smaller containers.
Each of the 12 gas stations passed with the laboratories finding no issues with water, sediment, or other deficiencies.
The results did not surprise Blauer.
“I haven’t seen a water and gas scam in the years that I’ve been with the Department of Agriculture,” he said.
Out of the nearly 2,500 gas samples – including several types of fuel – 14 were out of compliance. When state inspectors from the Department of Agriculture look for water, they perform a visual inspection, following standard industry guidelines. A chemist will then test each sample if the visual inspection fails.
The team will also inspect the price at the pump – specifically the signs on the pumps themselves and the marquee outside. There is no period written into law for when the sign must change – it just cannot be misleading, Blauer said.
“If they know that price of fuel has changed at the pump and they just leave the sign out there and don’t change it for a day or so — they’re misleading the general public,” he said.
Out of 20 complaints regarding prices, nine prices were discovered to be “inconsistent.”
With a decade in this job, Blauer said he has never come across a gas station defrauding its customers. Simply put he said the penalties are too high.
In addition, paying for premium gas, but getting a lower octane, is rare, because the two pipelines serving the Las Vegas valley will only send one type of fuel out at a time.
Complaints can be filed with the department at https://agri.nv.gov/layouts/Page_Style_1.aspx?id=7974.