More fuel forecourt checks this summer to prevent fraud as prices remain high

More fuel pumps in Plymouth will face checks this summer as the cost-of-living crisis continues. Trading Standards says normally it tests about 12 forecourts a year in the South West but will boost this by an extra 20 in 2022, along with the possibility of more checks if needed.

Pumps are regularly tested to ensure that they are legal and to see if the amount of fuel a pump is showing the motorist is being dispensed is actually going into the vehicle. To prevent fraud, pumps are sealed to stop them being tampered with.

In the last financial year pumps at 12 forecourts were routinely tested with no issues found, but since the drastic increase in fuel prices there have been concerns about the accuracy of pumps.

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Trading Standards says the increased checks are to reassure customers, rather than as a response to specific evidence of fraud. The checks, which will also take place across Devon and Somerset, will verify if the numeric indicators shown on the pump are accurate.

Mark Peacock from the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service said: “Testing petrol pumps for accuracy is a particularly important part of our work as, unlike most purchases of goods by weight or volume, the actual amount of fuel that goes into the tank is never actually seen by the consumer. They only have the pump meter and their fuel gauge to rely on, therefore, any detriment to the consumer is difficult to spot.

“These tests are routine and although there have been complaints, we believe that the vast majority our local forecourts are run honestly, and we will publish the results of our testing over the coming months to prove that.”

Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for economic recovery and skills, said: “Inflation and the cost-of-living crisis is greatly affecting our region, and high fuel prices are affecting people going to work, parents taking their children to school, businesses, voluntary services, care workers trying to visit clients, farmers in our rural communities, and tourists visiting the region. In response, trading standards has decided to increase routine testing of petrol pumps to ensure the customer at the pump can be confident they are getting what they pay for.”

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