Pumping to the last drop
Random gas stations pass Sunday Gleaner volume test after complaints from motorists
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
With reports swirling about scams at some gas stations, several motorists have questioned if they are being shortchanged when they fill up at the pumps.
"I don't have no way of measuring the gas that I am served, but it seems to be finishing quicker even though I buy the same 20 litres every time no matter what the price," one female motorist told our news centre last week.
But Sunday Gleaner checks at six randomly selected gas stations in the Corporate Area and at six stations in three rural parishes failed to find any which were pumping less than it should.
In each case, one litre of 87-octane gasolene was bought in a large plastic container and then measured. None fell short of the one-litre mark.
This was no surprise to president of Jamaica Gasolene Retailers' Association (JGRA), Leonard Green, who argued that it is in the best interest of everyone that motorists get their money's worth at the pumps.
"The integrity of the trade is very important to the JGRA," said Green as he noted that at some stations the pumps could be under-delivering or over-delivering.
"It doesn't help us either way. Because when you have a dissatisfied customer, they don't come back to your site and you'll lose that sale. So it is in our interest and the JGRA is fully committed to the highest ethical standards," added Green.
GOOD CALIBRATION KEY
With some motorists claiming that they were told that it was because of the volatile nature of gasolene why they did not get the amount they paid for, Green dismissed this claim.
"It (gasolene) is volatile yes and is subject to contraction and expansion, but that is for a while after you have received the product," said Green.
"So if there is a point that you're supposed to get to and you're not getting there, it means the calibration is off."
The JGRA president is encouraging motorists to check for the yellow 'Passed' stickers placed on pumps across the island as these indicate the pumps have been checked by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and calibrated to ensure that they deliver the amount of product that is purchased.
According to Ellis Laing, public education and information coordinator at the BSJ, the petrol stations that display the 'Passed' stickers are part of a voluntary certification programme.
He said there may be other gas pumps that the bureau would have checked, but by virtue of not opting to be in the certification programme, these gas stations would not have stickers displayed.
However, this would not necessarily mean their pumps are not working properly.
"The bureau does have inspectors who would, from time to time, visit petrol stations just seeking to verify the measurements of all the gas pumps," declared Laing.
"The inspectors may do this at any time and there are some pumps that are involved in a certification programme and those pumps will be checked every six months to a year, but then the inspectors may, at random, go to particular places and they have the liberty to check.
"Using our standard measuring equipment, we will dispense the petrol and check to see if the reading is consistent with what it ought to be. If the reading is not consistent, the persons have an option to recalibrate those pumps and then a reverification process takes place," added Laing.
He noted that what the BSJ does is the verification of the calibration, because the companies have the responsibility to calibrate the pumps.
"Where we find the readings to be inconsistent, and if they are not able to correct it at that time, those pumps will be sealed off and prevented from being used until such time that the changes are effected by the dealer."