Pain at the Pump: Are You Being Ripped Off at the Gas Station?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," July 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALEXIS GLICK, GUEST HOST: Well, those soaring gas prices fueling complaints about faulty gas pumps, more drivers claiming they are rigged.

My next guest even ripped off once himself.

Todd Staples doing everything he can to make sure it does not happen to anyone else. He is the commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Video: Watch Alexis Glick's interview

Thanks for joining us.

So, tell us, what happened to you?

TODD STAPLES, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: Well, about a week ago, I was filling up my own vehicle and knew the capacity of my tank, and felt like that I had been charged for product that I had not received.

So, I did what any Texas consumer can do. And that's call the Texas Department of Agriculture. A complaint was filed. An inspector went out and looked at the station. And, in fact, the pump was not dispensing all that it was supposed to. And about 72 percent of the pumps were actually tilted in favor of the station owner.

As a result of that, we shut them down. We tagged those pumps out of order. And we turned it over to enforcement, so they can be fined for being in noncompliance.

GLICK: I would imagine that, in this period, more than ever, you are hearing more and more complaints from everyday citizens, saying, you know what? I am not seeing the gas gauge go all the way to the right, like I would like to see it, particularly how much I'm spending on it. Tell us about those complaints.

STAPLES: Well, complaints have doubled this year over the last year.

And we continue to see that. And at $4-a-gallon gasoline, we want to make certain that consumers get every ounce of gasoline that they pay for. We have doubled — we have quadrupled our fines here in Texas to make certain that we have compliance. And, in fact, we see, on our routine inspections, that about 95 percent of those stations are in fact in compliance.

On our complaint-based inspections, though, we are seeing a 30 percent noncompliance rate. And, so, we are working extremely hard to make certain that consumers get every ounce that they pay for. And they need to at the high prices that they are facing today.

GLICK: Commissioner, let me ask you this. One of the common complaints is that none of the states have enough field inspectors to deal with the level of complaints. What do you say to that?

STAPLES: Well, we have about 16 million drivers in Texas.

And what we're trying to do is empower consumers. Consumers need to know what they are paying for, whether they're buying fuel or buying a car or buying a house. And we think the best inspectors we have are — is the driving public. And we are doing educational and promotional concepts. We are posting violators on our Web site at the Texas Department of Agriculture, so that consumers can know who to do business with.

And we think this is a very market-based way to do that. Let consumers know the information. And they are the best gauge ever. And they need to know what to expect and what to look for.

GLICK: All right, Commissioner Todd Staples of the Texas Department of Agriculture, thanks so much for joining us and telling us your personal story.

STAPLES: Thank you, Alexis.


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