However, high pump prices have fuelled driver’s rip-off suspicions and led to complaints to Trading Standards across the country.
Meanwhile, problems with a European Union move to harmonise fuel measuring on forecourts mean that some pumps have been supplying more fuel than the counter indicates.
Last November, a major supermarket announced that stemming a £500,000-a-year loss from over-dispensed fuel was being hindered by difficulties in meeting new regulations.
Trading Standards have this year tested fuel pumps across the country in response to driver complaints, but a rule requiring a pump to be reset even if it dispenses significantly more fuel than shown on the display means that some motorists’ moans have backfired.
Trading Standards officers have reported discrepancies at four of 38 sites inCumbriaand 11 of 216 nozzles inDerby. InNewport, just two of 353 nozzles failed – one of them giving more fuel than indicated. InNorth Lanarkshire, petrol station operators called in Trading Standards last month to help reassure customers that they were getting their money’s worth from the pumps.
A European Union ruling that will eventually force retailers to upgrade forecourt equipment to meet the new Measuring Instruments Directive, coming into force by the end of October 2016, has created an incompatibility problem for forecourts with a mix of ageing and newer pumps, says the AA.
In November, retailers complained of having to put up with older pumps over-dispensing fuel until they could be replaced completely. Meanwhile, with drivers ever-wary of being ripped off at the pump, the chance of a visit from Trading Standards grows.
Following concern from members, the AA carried out preliminary tests at a handful of fuel stations to see if there were grounds for a more comprehensive survey. Not only did all the pumps dispense at least the right amount, but most gave even more
AA president Edmund King said: ‘Following concern from members, the AA carried out preliminary tests at a handful of fuel stations to see if there were grounds for a more comprehensive survey. Not only did all the pumps dispense at least the right amount, but most gave even more.
‘Some drivers have been benefitting from a lucky dip at the pumps, getting more fuel than they pay for.
‘However, crippling pump prices have produced desperation among poorer drivers, particularly those trying to get by on £10, £20 or £30 weekly fuel spends that their family budgets can barely afford. Petrol this week averaged 134.17p a litre – two years ago, it was 116.6p. Inevitably, some motorists are watching their gauges like hawks and complaining to Trading Standards.
‘Trading Standards warn that some drivers compare the fuel volume showing at the pump with what they can read off their in-car instruments, although the latter are designed purely as a guide. Consequently, there is an irony that some drivers who complain may be acting against their own interests.’