For Immediate Release
April 26 2011
Montpelier, Vt – When you think of the Agency of Agriculture, the first thought you might have is of farms and food. But the agency actually plays a much broader role in your everyday lives than you may know.
Through the work of the Consumer Protection Section at the Agency of Agriculture, inspectors monitor every gas pump in the state for accuracy as well as investigate consumer complaints.
And their work is paying off. Recent figures show that overall Vermont consumers are receiving accurate gasoline dispersal at the nearly 500 gasoline stations in the state. Statewide, gasoline pump accuracy is determined to be 98 percent. Vermont has 496 gasoline stations with 6500 pumps that are inspected annually by four agency employees.
“This is very important work. Our consumers and business owners rely on the accuracy of weighing and measuring devices to make sure they get what they pay for,” said Henry Marckres, Chief of the Consumer Protection Section at the agency. “This inspection process is important to maintain fair and accurate commerce across the state.”
Every complaint received is investigated in addition to the routine annual inspections. Last year, 31 complaints were investigated. If inaccuracies are found, a warning is issued and a follow up visit is scheduled to make sure the problem has been corrected. Marckres says owners must repair the problem or face fines of up to $25,000. “We are quick to follow up on a failed inspection of any type because it’s important that pumps are mechanically sound to ensure consumer confidence,” said Marckres.
The effect of small inaccuracies in transactions can be profound. For example, if every gas pump in the country were inaccurate by as little as a tablespoon per 5 gallons of gas, it would amount to a cumulative error of $125 million annually.
In addition, the Agency of Agriculture Consumer Protection Section specialists check that the accuracy of commercial weighing and measuring devices meet the standards set by the National Weights and Measures Conference. This protects both consumer and industry in marketplace transactions. Weights and Measures officials also help ensure that products and services sold by weight or measure comply with federal, state and local laws. The Agency of Agriculture inspects over 2700 scales, 6500 gas pumps and 400 oil meters each year.