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Feds vow crackdown on unfair gas pumps
By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News - April 15, 2010

Faulty gas pumps that charge motorists for more fuel than they receive could cost stations hefty fines as a result of new federal legislation. Photo

Gas stations with badly calibrated pumps that bilk motorists will face stiffer fines under proposed new federal legislation unveiled Thursday.

Conservative Industry Minister Tony Clement said the new Fairness at the Pumps Act will force retailers to have gas pumps as well as retail food scales inspected regularly.

Violators would face fines of up to $10,000 for minor offences and $25,000 for major offences, plus a new fine of up to $50,000 for repeat offences.

Existing legislation allows fines of no more than $1,000 and requires prosecution in court.

"When Canadians pull into a station to gas up, they want to know that what's on the pump is what's in the tank," Clement said.

The Tories had promised in 2008 to tighten enforcement of faulty pump measurements after a newspaper investigation found one out of 20 pump gauges were faulty, most of them charging motorists for more gas than they actually received.

It typically cost drivers about 50 cents per fill-up – $2 to $3 in rare cases.

Checks would be performed by a new group of authorized private inspectors, who would be trained and certified by Measurement Canada. The same inspectors would be responsible for enforcement.

Ottawa estimates they could inspect 65,000 pumps per year, up from about 8,000 now.

The costs of inspections would be charged to gas stations, and presumably be added to fuel costs.

"As long as it's not exorbitant, I think it's a cost consumers would be happy to bear," said Consumers Association of Canada president Bruce Cran, who praised the reforms.

The new legislation does not attempt to rein in gas prices, which have also been the subject of loud complaints and accusations of industry collusion for years.

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