‘Meter creep’: Customers charged for gas they never pumped

(WSVN) - It’s called “meter creep,” and it caused some customers to be overcharged at one South Florida gas station. How did it happen? 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

Here is something you don’t normally see when pumping gas.

The meter is running, the customer is getting charged, but there’s no gas coming out of the nozzle.

Gabriela Arenas, driver: “He held up the hose in the air with the nozzle right next to the meter, so you see that it’s still counting even though he’s not putting gas.”

It happened to Gabriela Arenas and her husband at this gas station on the corner of Southwest 88th Street and 157th Avenue in Southwest Miami-Dade.

Even after her husband finished pumping gas, and removed the nozzle from his car, the gallons and cents kept slowly ticking up.

It only stopped when he hung the nozzle back on the pump.

They got charged for gas they didn’t get, and Gabriela said the manager didn’t give them a refund.

Gabriela Arenas: “We were not happy, you can imagine.”

Brian Entin: “It has been two weeks since Gabriela had her issue at the pump, so we came to check and see if it is still happening. Take a look… When I take my hand off the nozzle, pull it out of the car — look over here and you see it’s still counting. The cents are still going up, the gallons are still going up, but there’s no gas coming out.”

Gabriela Arenas: “That’s the more astonishing part — is that they’re still doing it.”

We watched as customer after customer used the same pump, unaware of the problem.

I went into the gas station to ask about the issue, and one day later, “out of order” bags were put on the pump.

Luis Lago, Sunshine Gasoline Distributors: “Actually, we had a faulty hose assembly.”

Sunshine Gasoline Distributors owns the gas station, and they were quick to respond to us.

A vice president for the company met us to explain what caused drivers to be charged for gas they weren’t getting.

Brian Entin: “So the problem was in this area up here, is that what you’re saying?”

Luis Lago: “This area up here, yes, in the upper assembly, where it goes into the actual piping inside the dispenser.”

He said they called out a technician when the problem was first reported and thought it was fixed, but it wasn’t.

State inspectors call the problem “meter creep,” and tell 7News they do see the issue from time to time.

Brian Entin: “Will you refund the money to anyone who was overcharged?”

Luis Lago: “Definitely, definitely we will. As long as they have a receipt, we will, we’ll refund it.”

The managers showed us receipts for refunds they have already issued.

“We gave a refund of $2.”

And they say after a second visit by a technician, the pump was finally fixed.

Gabriela Arenas: “Gas is so expensive, you know? We just want to watch out for other people.”

When it comes to gas prices, Gabriela said every cent counts.

From now on, she will keep a close eye on the meter when she’s at the pump.

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