KSLA Investigates: How the state protects your pocket at the gas pump

KSLA Investigates: How the state protects your pocket at the gas pump

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - As the summer travel season picks up, you're more than likely going to be finding yourself spending more time at the gas pump. But, before you fill up ahead of that road trip, how do you know what you're getting what you pay for?

Nikki Stuart is a Louisiana state gas inspector for almost two decades. Her job requires her to go from gas station to gas station, from pump to pump, to inspect each pump to make sure you're getting every last drop you swipe for.

"Somebody has to watch out for us and the businesses," Stuart said. "The first thing I do is pull in and check to see if they have the price posted on a street sign."

Nikki drives an elaborate pick-up truck outfitted with three measuring tanks in the bed. Nikki then takes each pump and fills each of these tanks with approximately five gallons of gas.

"An average size station would be about 24 to 30 pumps, we can probably hit three of those a day," Stuart said. "We're looking for any leaks that may be on the inside and then on the outside when I'm pulling for fuel," said Stuart.

When checking each pump, the state allows for a small margin of error. If a pump strays away too much from the state standard, Nikki re-calibrates it.

If it's off by too much, the pump could be bagged until it's fixed.

Upon passing Nikki's extensive inspection, each pump receives a blue and yellow state sticker with the current year labeled.

"All gas stations we've been to and inspected, our seals are placed on those pumps," said Stuart.

Nikki said it's rare for gas stations in Louisiana to intentionally rip off customers by over-charging for gas. But, she notes the state has a zero-tolerance policy for stations that intentionally cheap customers.

"If they pull up to a fuel station and our approval seals are missing, then something has occurred there," Stuart said.

Nikki said before filling up, consumers should check to make sure the price listed on a pump matches an advertised price if it's posted on the street. It's against state law to falsely advertise a street price that differs from the pump price.

As you prepare to pay, Nikki also suggests paying inside with a cashier rather than outside. She noted a big concern is the threat of credit card skimmers stealing information at a pump.

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