Some Gas Pumps Unable to Compute High Prices

Iowa Department of Ag is helping fuel retailers whose mechanical meters can't register gasoline prices over $3.99 per gallon.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week explained the steps being taken by the Iowa Department of Agriculture to educate some of Iowa's fuel retailers about changes they will need to make as gas prices pass $3.99 per gallon.

"The record run-up in gas prices has certainly caught many gas stations off guard, and this is another problem that many thought was years away," says Northey. "Regardless of price, we are committed to making sure both customers and businesses are treated fairly." The Iowa Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures Bureau sent a letter last week to inform gasoline retailers that they must replace any mechanical meters that are unable to charge more than $3.99 per gallon or register a full price beyond $99.99.

Currently there are more than 34,000 gas pump meters in Iowa, and it is estimated that only 5% to 8% are mechanical meters that are unable to adjust to the higher price.

Stations must replace these meters

Currently most gas stations are experiencing a wait time of eight weeks or more to obtain the updated equipment due to the high level of demand for new meters. If a station has contacted their service company, ordered the necessary equipment and let the state ag department know when the equipment will be placed in service - there are temporary measures the station can take to continue serving their customers.

In the interim, fuel retailers must:

* Permanently cover the total price and price per gallon.
* Post a sign (printed or handwritten) on the pump indicating the price per gallon.
* Use the gallons on the meter to compute total price inside the store.
* The only thing visible to the customer should be the price per gallon and delivered gallons.

These measures are only being allowed as a temporary fix until the new equipment can be delivered.
The letter also informs retailers "half pricing" will not be allowed. This is when the price on the meter is set at half of the actual price and then the total is doubled.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's Weights and Measures Bureau is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of small devices - like gas pumps, counter scales and grain moisture meters - and large devices such as truck scales, bulk, loading rack and LP gas meters. The department also conducts random package inspections. If customers or retailers have questions, they should contact the Weights and Measures Bureau at 515-725-1492.

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