Could You Be Overpaying For Gas, Produce?


By Ashley Thompson

The Alabama Department of Agriculture is supposed to check the accuracy of scales throughout the state, from gas station pumps to grocery store produce scales.

But budget cuts have caused the department to fall behind on their inspections and as a result, you could be paying more for your groceries and gas.

Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan says his department has been behind on inspections across the state on products like gas pumps and produce scales. You may have noticed some commissioner stickers dating back years.

"We've had significant layoffs in the department and budget cuts," he says.

Those budget cuts have the department calling on owner-operators to inspect themselves. In other words, McMillan says it's the gas station and grocery store operators that are responsible for keeping their scales and devices accurate.

"What we've been doing is monitoring or checking behind them, you might say."

Though not everyone says these owner-operators can be trusted.

"I wasn't getting the right amount of gas for the last ten years or so," says Montgomery resident Ulysses Austin.

"I don't ever think I'm getting enough," says Shirley Martin.

McMillan says new legislation was just passed that will allow his department to do three things:

1. Allow inspectors and owner-operators to work more closely with one another

2. Develop a database to maintain inspection results

3. Allow board of agricultural industries to penalize inspection violators

The Department of Agriculture wants to instate these new policies within the next three years but some say inspections can't wait that long.

"In three years?" asks resident Tehira Smith. "We're still paying for gas now, everyday."

"Come in and make sure things are up to standards and the year for one," says Shirley Brisker. "Because [this sticker] says 2011 and it's 2013."

And you may not always be getting ripped off. McMillan says there's also a possibility you could be getting too much for your buck.

"We find out that often times they're giving away gas on one pump and charging too much for the volume that is purchase on another," he explains.

If you suspect that a fuel pump or produce scale may be inaccurate, you are encouraged to call the Department of Agriculture at 334-240-7134.



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