A scam, or an innocent mistake?
Either way, it's a wake-up call to pay attention at the pump.
A pair of videos posted to YouTube Friday by Kaloyan Pechevski are going viral and sparking discussion online for what they show: a gas pump racking up charges even though it's not pumping any gas.
The nozzle lies impotently on the trunk of his car.
In his videos, Pechevski says he's at a Citgo in Wheeling, Illinois, and that he noticed the phantom pumping after he prepaid $25 in cash.
He recorded the scene and got others at the station to witness the strange phenomenon.
"After that I went to get my [$25] back and I was told by the gentleman that sometimes it gets loose and that was the reason for what you saw on my video," Pechevski wrote in the video description.
TheBlaze tracked down the phone number for what appears to be the gas station in question — it's technically in Prospect Heights, not Wheeling, and it apparently used to have a Brown's Chicken where there's now a Dunkin' Donuts — and called on Saturday morning.
The attendant who answered told TheBlaze he knew nothing of a viral video and that the manager was out.
When he was asked to provide an email address or other contact information for a manager, he hung up.
On Reddit, the video sparked discussion about how to protect against broken — or scam-related — gas station pumps.
"People need to realize that unless the public reports these problems, it's hard for us to know it's happening," wrote one commenter, devildog25, who said they worked worked their state's agriculture department with fuel inspectors. "We have only a handful of inspectors to cover the entire state so stations only get inspected maybe once a year. Public reporting is huge and we depend on that to help protect consumers. Stations can get anywhere from a fine all the way to being shut down."
Devildog25 added some tips for people to be aware of at the pump:
If you got to pump gas and you pull the handle and you notice the amount go up before you notice gas star to flow. That means that the calibration is off and that pump needs to be shut down until it's fixed. Also, if you notice your car just isn't quite running right it might mean that there is water in the gas and the station needs to be shut down so that we can test the gas. One more thing in regards to looking at prices: if you notice the sign is advertising one price but the pump is registering a higher price then that needs to be reported (this excludes them advertising a cash price but it must say it is for cash on the sign).
Another commenter claiming to be a gas station industry veteran added on with more advice, writing:
I have worked in the gas station business for a very long time and have seen a lot of things go wrong. When it is cold outside, the pumps will need to be re-primed from time to time. Primarily diesel pumps. That will make the amount and gallons on the pump go up when it is not actually dispensing any fuel. This is not a calibration issue, it is an empty line issue. The [original poster]'s video does not show a line issue, to me it looks like something fishy is going on. I would have to inspect the pumps further to know for sure.
Secondly, every gas station (unless the tanks are new) gas tank has water in them. Water does not mix with gas, however if they are getting a gas load while you are pumping fuel, you may get water or tank rust or even dirt in the lines. There are filters to prevent the last two, but water will still make it through. Do not fear water in your tank, just know not to pump gas while a tanker truck is filling the tanks. I still fuel my personal vehicles when the tanker is there, but the safer bet is to wait for the water to separate from the gas before fueling.
Lastly, the advice of devildog25 about the price signs versus pump price is very good advice. Those prices are placed there by humans and there are human errors. Some are honest errors, some are dishonest errors. We have a store policy to change the sign first and the pump second, when the gas prices are going up. When the prices are going down, we change the pump first and the sign second. This is store policy and there are no laws or regulations to prevent us from doing the opposite. Always go off the price on the pump, not the sign. If there is a discrepancy in the stores favor, request money back. If it is your favor, the store probably already knows, but it would be nice of you to inform them.
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