WSVN — If you had a nickel for every time you filled up with gas, well, you could afford another tank of gas. But what do you do if that gas has water in it? One woman said that happened to her. Then she had trouble getting the gas station to pay for the repairs, and so she did what you need to do in South Florida: call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Have you ever met someone like Maggie Wiggin? A retiree who is fun, funny, full of life and enjoying life.

Maggie Wiggin: “In fact, I am having lunch with my girlfriend today. That’s what you do when you are retired. You have lunch dates.”

Before lunch, she has her routine. Feeding the wild birds in her front yard, treats for her neighbor’s dogs, and then off to shop in nearby Homestead stores. And why close to home?

Maggie Wiggin: “You visit — Homestead’s a visit. When you shop, you visit.”

Maggie is a loyal customer to the businesses who treat her right, and has even been going to the same gas station for the past 16 years.

Maggie Wiggin: “I always put Murphy Oil in, and the reason is, the Wal-Mart gift card gives you three cents off a gallon.”

But after getting gas in January, trouble…

Maggie Wiggin: “Well, as I am getting to the Turnpike, the car starts, ‘Boom, boom, boom,’ like this. Now, I am an old lady, so I get scared.”

Margaret pulled over.

Maggie Wiggin: “And the Turnpike, the cars were going, ‘swoosh, swoosh, swoosh,’ and I didn’t want to get killed getting out of my car.”

A tow truck took her to her Toyota dealer. They wrote they discovered contaminated fuel, replaced the spark plugs, cleaned things up, and $400 later she headed home to call the gas station’s corporate headquarters.

Maggie Wiggin: “She said, ‘I am going to send you an e-mail with a form I want you to fill out and fax back with me.’ She said it’s gonna take 3 to 7 days. No problem.”

But seven days turned into 14 days, then 28 days.

Maggie Wiggin: “I called them three times. Two faxes. Two e-mails. Nothing.”

For a month, Maggie tried to get the corporate headquarters to pay for the repairs after her fill-up and finally gave up.

Maggie Wiggin: “I had nobody to help me, and I can’t afford to get an attorney to go fight this.”

Well, Maggie, I know one place where there is an attorney who will work for free. So, Howard, if you get bad fuel, is the station responsible? And how do you prove it?

Howard Finkelstein: “If gas damages your car, whoever sold you the fuel has to pay to fix the damage done to your car. If they won’t, you might have to sue, and the mechanic who fixed your car can testify that it was bad gas that caused the damage.”

First, we helped Maggie file a complaint with the state of Florida. Even though it happened weeks earlier, they are investigating.

A few days later, Maggie got this letter from Murphy USA, the owner of the Florida City gas station. They wrote, “After a complete review, we respectfully decline responsibility.”

They listed the safeguards they have in place, and said they found no evidence of contamination or water. That there were no other fuel incidents at this station around the date of the purchase.

Then, three paragraphs later, the lady who looks for the best in people got her surprise. The corporate manager wrote, “Thank you for understanding. Because you are a loyal customer, we wish to offer you the enclosed check for $434.” $400 for the repairs, plus $24 for the tow and $10 dollars to replace the gas she put in her car that day.

Maggie Wiggin: “I am excited.”

Maggie got her money, and gave us one of the best thank yous we have ever heard.

Maggie Wiggin: “And the best thing is that Patrick stays with you the whole process. He calls you, he keeps you advised. You are not just left out in the wind. He really cares about people.”

It was great meeting you, Maggie.

Patrick Fraser: “Murphy USA. Now, ideally, that’s the way every company would treat their good customers, and it could not have happened to a nicer person. Now, if you think you have bought bad fuel or the pump is charging too much, contact the state of Florida’s Agriculture Department. If they are notified immediately, they can test the fuel and pump right away to determine what’s going on.”

A problem driving you crazy? Running out of gas trying to resolve it? Pull up to us. We don’t have tanks of hi-test, but the desire to see you smile fuels us.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.


E-mail: (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN


English: 1-800-HELP-FLA, or 1-800-FL-AYUDA for Spanish speakers

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