Target 8: Stations could shortchange you at the pump

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BOONE COUNTY - Although the nation no longer suffers from gas pump woes, consumers may not always get what they pay for.

KOMU 8 obtained hundreds of documents from the Department of Agriculture, revealing which Boone and Callaway County gas stations failed biannual inspections in the last two years. 

Missouri is one of the only states whose agriculture department has a Fuel Quality Program (FQP), which inspects its gas stations this frequently. It reported 15 rejections in Boone County and 14 in Callaway County in the last two years. 

The FQP can consider both gas stations and individual pumps as rejections for many reasons. Some of those include issues like low flash point, which is a fuel temperature measurement that is a fire hazard when low, and high vapor pressure, which is monitored to prevent smog.

Other problems the FQP inspects include labels and equipment to make sure consumers are getting what they think they're buying. Columbia resident Scott Bess experienced some of those first hand.

"I went to a station, put in my credit card, pulled the thing off the pump, put the thing in my gas tank, gave it a squeeze and nothing came out," Bess said.

Bess wrote a complaint to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and received a response and his money back within a week.

"I was amazed at how quick it was," Bess said. "I thought they did a great job."

However, if consumer action is not taken, inspectors step in, forcing stations to shut down individual pumps if rejected during their tests. 

John Albert, FQP inspector and program administrator, said it's not about how many rejections are reported each year, but who is failing repeatedly, and why.

"It would be unfair to say that they had that repeated rejections because it's still one problem that's being worked through," Albert said. "It takes a lot of time, money and energy to withdraw that product, take it back to a distribution center for re-blending."

Stations affected like Casey's General Store in Ashland and QuikTrip in Columbia said rejections are quick fixes.

"We shut down the pump that's affected," Casey's CFO Bill Walljasper said. "We will pump out the product that's affected, and then we will get a new shipment of the product and have it retested by the state. It's typically a diesel situation and a relatively quick process. We're talking days."

"We will reimburse customers and most likely will buy them a tank of gasoline for the problems they faced," QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said. 

Recorded rejections in Boone County include Casey's General Store #1387 in Centralia, Casey's General Store #1021 in Ashland, Steve O's in Columbia, Casey's General Store #1064 in Sturgeon, Fast Lane #55 in Columbia, Breaktime #3026 in Columbia, three at Quick Mart in Centralia, Mutrux Automotive in Columbia, eight at Quick Stop in Centralia, four Breaktime #3016 in Columbia, Breaktime #3115 in Columbia, two at Pierpont Store in Columbia, Lindsey Rentals in Columbia and MPC #93 in Columbia.

Further, other recorded rejections in Callaway County are Beeline Snack Shop #2 in Holts Summit, Cranes Store in Williamsburg, two at Pass-N-Gas in Fulton, two at MFA Breaktime #42 in Holts Summit, two at Luebbering #66 in Holts Summit and two at Luebbering Oil Company in Jefferson City.

To review the inspection results for Boone and Callaway Counties in 2013, see this PDF file: FQP Fuel Inspections 2013.pdf. For the inspection results in 2014, see this PDF file: FQP Fuel Inspections 2014.pdf To view the key for rejection codes, see this PDF file: FQP Fuel Inspection Rejection Codes.pdf