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Another Example of NYC's Oppressive Business Environment - You Need a License to Pump Gas

There are more than 10,000 gas pumps in the five boroughs of New York City, and if you want to work as a pump jockey at any of them, the City of New York demands that you pay a fee and pass a test in order to be considered 'fit for dispensing motor fuel.'

Adding to the eyebrow-raising portion of this story is the fact that in New York, like most other states the average citizen is permitted to pump their own gas. Self-servers (like you and me) are not required to have a license, but the stations where self-serve is available must have a 'P-15 licensed' person on duty when gas is being dispensed.

The people who make their living putting gas into your car are probably not in the highest income tax bracket (if they pay any tax at all), which also makes it more offensive when New York City requires these folks to pay a $25 dollar licensing fee (with a $15 renewal charge every couple of years) in order to earn the minimum wage.  And not everyone is eligible to take the test. From the city's website;

  • 1. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
  • 2. Applicants must have a reasonable understanding of the English language.
  • 3. Applicants must present a letter of recommendation from his/her employer. The letter must be on official letterhead and must state the applicant’s full name, character, physical condition, experience, and address of premises where applicant will be employed.
  • 4. Applicants must present two (2) forms of satisfactory identification i.e., driver’s license and passport picture ID.

May I remind you that we are talking about the job of pumping gas, a task that most newly-licensed 16-year-old drivers can perform almost instinctively.  And yet the City of New York demands to know about a pump jockey's 'character, physical condition, experience'.

Aside from the cost to the individual, there are governmental expenses inherent in managing this kind of operation. The test is given Monday through Friday, which means someone has to be paid to handle the collection of license fees, ID checking, reference letter verification, test administration and grading and then the awarding of the actual license to those achieving a passing grade of '70' or above. As new gas pump technology emerges, the test itself is probably updated on a regular basis, which means the test preparation materials must also be re-written and printed.

The gas pump testing must be popular because there is a company that makes money charging people to prepare them for the multiple-choice exam.

An additional $20 dollars for the 'study guide?' At least these folks included the eleven-page FDNY study guide that anyone can download from the web.

Reviewing the city's laundry-list of licensing fees, it seems strange that the testing/licensing charge for a person operating a Liquified Natural Gas plant is exactly the same as that of the gas station worker.

Is the LNG worker getting a break or is the pump jockey getting ripped off? (Probably both.)

New York City has thousands of people working in jobs that should demand a skilled, licensed workforce for the protection of the worker as well as the consumer. Jobs of this kind might include careers in emergency services like police, fire and EMS, but pumping gas is probably not even in the top fifty.

h/t to J. Ken Feder of Safeguard Services

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