The Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service is to increase the number of petrol station forecourt checks its officers carry out to make sure the public are not being ripped off.
Usually around a dozen forecourts a year are tested across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – this summer up to an extra 20 will be tested, with a possibility of more if needed.
The increase in checks comes as the cost of fuel has risen to more than £2 a litre for the very first time. Since fuel costs have shot up, there has been concern about the pricing and accuracy of pumps – and the increased checks are to reassure customers, and not as a response to specific evidence of fraud.
The checks determine whether the amount of fuel a pump shows the motorist is being dispensed is actually going into the vehicle. To prevent fraud, fuel pumps are ‘sealed’ to prevent adjustment or tampering and to tamper with them is against the law.
Mark Peacock from Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service said: “Testing petrol pumps for accuracy is a particularly important part of our work as, unlike most purchases of goods by weight or volume, the actual amount of fuel that goes into the tank is never actually seen by the consumer.
“They only have the pump meter and their fuel gauge to rely on, therefore, any detriment to the consumer is difficult to spot.
“These tests are routine and although there have been complaints, we believe that the vast majority our local forecourts are run honestly, and we will publish the results of our testing over the coming months to prove that.”
This month Business Companion published a new guide for traders selling liquid fuel to help them understand and operate according to consumer protection law.