CHICAGO – As gas prices rise in the wake of Hurricane Ike, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today reminded motorists that the Illinois Department of Agriculture and its SWAT (State Wide Action Team) are inspecting gas pumps to make sure that motorists aren't shorted at the pump. Illinoisans are also encouraged to file complaints if they believe they are not getting the gas that they are paying for.
“With gas prices reflecting the destruction of Hurricane Ike in the
Gulf Coast, I want to remind Illinoisans that we have inspectors hard at work to make sure everyone gets every ounce of gas they paid for,” said Governor Blagojevich, “During the unstable economic times we live in, I want to ensure that every dollar goes as far as possible.”
Last July, the Governor ordered SWAT to step up their manpower in response to a new multitude of complaints about gas stations. The State does not regulate gas prices, but it does have the authority to inspect pumps and verify that they are dispensing both the proper amount and grade of gas. Pumps found to be providing too much or too little fuel immediately are taken out of service and cannot be used again, until a registered repair worker fixes them. If the wrong grade of fuel is being sold, the station is fined and the mislabeled product is removed from the market.
In addition to its regular inspections, the Department of Agriculture also investigates consumer complaints. Consumers who feel they have been shorted and would like to file a complaint should call the Bureau of Weights and Measures at 1-800-582-0468.
The Department of Agriculture inspects about 94,000 pumps. In 2007, four percent, or 3,267, were rejected. The dispensing errors detected were nearly evenly distributed, with 687 benefiting the consumer and 699 benefiting the station. The remaining 1,881 pumps were rejected for reasons such as a defective hose or nozzle. Nearly 1,000 random product samples were collected last year, as well. The samples are used to check octane ratings and determine fuel quality. 61 violations were discovered.
“The department cannot control the price of gas, but it can make sure motorists receive every gallon that they pay for,” said Tom Jennings, Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “We have a dedicated staff of weights and measures inspectors who check gas pumps around the state to ensure they’re working accurately.”
Some communities, including Chicago, Cicero, Evanston, Granite City, Oak Park, and Schaumburg, inspect their own gas pumps. Motorists living in those areas can direct their concerns to their local authorities.