Store’s gas pump shut down for price discrepancies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Paris Goodnight
Salisbury Post
The N.C. Department of Agriculture forced Lentz General Store at 9020 Stokes Ferry Road to shut down one of its gasoline pumps because the price outside was differing from the console inside.
Customer Amy Wallace noticed the discrepancy, which usually was only a few cents different from what the pump registered and what the inside console read. She said she told the owners but got no satisfactory response. She later called the number on a sticker the Agriculture Department places on all gasoline pumps, and she called the Post.
“As a customer, we don’t know if the pump is right,” Wallace said. “But if they have 100 or 150 customers a day‚Ķ”
Rick Tutwiler, who bought the store with his wife, Julie, last year, said the pumps were inspected and certified by the state in November.
“We passed our inspection, and from November to this, we were good,” he said. “It’s a mechanical problem. And you can’t help that when it’s an old-style pump.
“In no way did we intend to defraud anybody. We’re not trying to do anybody wrong. We found a problem, and we took care of it.”
Gerald Brown, area supervisor with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Standards Division, said inspectors depend on consumers to let them know if there’s any question about such issues. Brown said older pumps, such as the one at Lentz’s store, sometimes aren’t easy to repair.
“The old analog ones that aren’t digital may take awhile to get parts,” Brown said. “The older they get, the harder it is.”
After being shut down, they can’t be put back into use until a licensed technician makes the necessary repairs.
When a call about a pump comes in, inspectors try to check the pump within 24 hours, Brown said. Many of the calls are for issues like the sign listing a different price from what’s on the pump. He said any station that’s checked will be kept on file for three years to make sure compliance is maintained.
If a licensed technician needs to make a repair, an inspector checks on it within a week to make sure the correction worked. He said one inspector covers Rowan, Cabarrus and Davidson counties. And Brown said the system only works if people call with complaints.
“We count on customers to call if something is wrong,” he said. “We tell them we appreciate that.”
The number to report complaints is 919-733-3313.
Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@ salisburypost.com.

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