Getting the gallons you paid for at the pump


When a driver pays for 5 gallons of 93 octane gasoline, that’s exactly what they expect to get.  But many drivers said they had no way of knowing if they could trust the readout on the pump.  7 News analyzed thousands of records from the Department of Agriculture to find out if people are really getting what they pay for.

Uber driver Malendia Dawikins calls herself the “Uber Queen”, complete with scepter, tiara and sash.

“I am the queen. I am the Uber queen. I am the best of the best,” Dawkins claimed.

At the very least, “the Queen” is a very busy driver.  Her hybrid Nissan is on the roads, delivering passengers 7 days a week, morning and night, as much as 12 hours a day.  Few drivers cover as many Upstate miles as Dawkins.

Every gallon of gas is a critical part of Dawkins’ “royal budget” and it’s a line item in her accounting that’s fueled almost entirely by trust.

“I can’t say that the gas I’m getting is correct or not but I know what it does for my hybrid,” she said.

The state agency responsible for guaranteeing drivers get what they pay for at the pump is the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

“We check for purity, check for any type of contaminants and then check for the quality,” said Agriculture Assistant Commissioner of Consumer Protection Derek Underwood.

The lab, near the state farmers market, reeks of gasoline.  Random consumers have shipped samples in Mountain Dew bottles and glass jars.

Those consumer submitted samples are tested but, because the staff can’t ensure the chain of custody, the Department can’t shut down a pump based on results.  Instead, those samples will usually trigger a follow-up inspection from the state.

Those state inspections are more scientific.  Trained inspectors not only collect samples for testing but also use a highly calibrated $700 container to ensure that what a pump claims is 5 gallons is exactly that.

“We just check to make sure the fuel you’re purchasing at the gas station is actually is what the labeling indicates,” Underwood said.

So, 7 News looked at more than year’s worth of lab results, enough time for every pump in the Upstate to be tested at least once.  The numbers show the average gas pump is incredibly accurate.

In the 15 months from the start of 2015 until this April, 392 Upstate pumps failed an official state inspection.  That’s not as bad as it sounds.  81% of those failed pumps were giving away too much gas.

The state found just 19 pumps shortchanging drivers.  There were other problems too.

One Upstate station had too much water in the fuel, it was at two different pumps at a station on W. Main Street in Central.

The meter on the premium grade gas at the K&M on Mauldin Road in Greenville kept moving even after the flow of gas stopped.

The pumps at two stations, one in Greenville and another in Anderson would “jump” meaning they started charging before the gas started pumping.

In each case, the state inspector hung a red tag on the pump, and shut it down until a state licensed repair was certified.

There are no other fines or penalties for bad pumps but, Underwood said, the inability to use a failed pump to sell gas was a serious penalty for station owners.

Full list of failed inspections and reason:

Computation-Total Sale (1)
   GREENVILLE – 1
      LIL CRICKET #855 – 1

Display Readable (24)
   ANDERSON (7)
      STOP-A-MINIT #14 – 7
   CONESTEE (1)
      BREAKER’S – 1
   GAFFNEY (1)
      PILOT #453 – 1
   GREENVILLE (5)
      ED’S GT’S EXPRESS MART – 3
      LIL CRICKET #881 – 1
      SPINX #197 – 1
   PIEDMONT (2)
      JERRYS CNTRY CUPBOARD – 1
      STOP-A-MINIT #7 – 1
   SENECA (2)
      7 ELEVEN #36822 – 2
   SIMPSONVILLE (1)
      CORNER MART #50 – 1
   TRAVELERS REST (5)
      HANDEE MART #10 – 5

Excess Water (2)
   CENTRAL (2)
      NEW MARKET – 2

Leaks (8)
   GREENVILLE (1)
      B P STATION – 1
   GREER (4)
      KANGAR00 EXPRESS #1508 – 1
      SPINX #121 – 2
      SPINX #166031 – 1
   LAURENS (1)
      SOUTHWIND BP – 1
   WATERLOO (1)
      LAKE SUNOCO #669 – 1
   WOODRUFF (1)
      SCOTCHMAN #3810 – 1

Meter Creep (1)
   GREENVILLE (1)
      K&M BP – 1

Meter Jump (3)
   ANDERSON (1)
      7 ELEVEN #32896 – 1
   TAYLORS (2)
      WILLIS #3 – 2

Octane Decal (11)
   ANDERSON (7)
      HIGH VOLUME #2 – 1
      RACE WAY #6750 – 3
      SUNOCO SC LLC #406 – 3
   GRAY COURT (4)
      FILLUPS CONVENIENCE STORE – 4

Out of Tolerance (-) (19)
   BLACKSBURG (3)
      CITGO CORNER MART – 1
      J&R TRAVEL PLAZA (SPEEDWAY EXPRESS FOOD MART) – 1
      MUNCHIES GAS & GO – 1
   EASLEY (2)
      COUNTRY FOOD MART – 1
      DODGE’S STORE – 1
   GAFFNEY (1)
      PETRO MAX – 1
      GRAY COURT – 1
      CROSS ROADS EXPRESS – 1
   GREENVILLE (2)
      SPINX #105 – 2
   LAURENS (2)
      CORNER MART #55 – 1
      HOT SPOT #2019 – 1
   MAULDIN (3)
      SPINX #181 – 2
      YOGI FOOD STORE – 1
   SENECA (1)
      7 ELEVEN #36822 – 1
   SIMPSONVILLE (1)
      WALMART GAS #5371 – 1
   SPARTANBURG (1)
      VILMA’S – 1
   UNION (1)
      LIL CRICKET #3846 – 1
   WATERLOO (1)
      LAKE SUNOCO #669 – 1

Out of Tolerance (+) (318)
   ANDERSON (5)
      ANDERSON BP – 4
      JP JONES MARATHON -1
   BLACKSBURG (1)
      LOVE’S TRAVEL STOP – 1
   BUFFALO (5)
      LIL CRICKET 3849 – 5
   CLINTON (14)
      CORNER STOP #58 – 2
      FAMILY FOOD STORE – 10
      PIK-N-GO – 1
      ZEE’S FOOD MART – 1
   CONESTEE (2)
      BREAKER’S – 2
   EASLEY (2)
      BREAKER’S FOOD & GRILL – 1
      JORDON HOT SPOT #301 – 1
   FAIR PLAY (1)
      LOVES’S TRAVEL STOP #387 – 1
   FOUNTAIN INN (7)
      INN MART AT 418 – 6
      SUNOCO #474 – 1
   GAFFNEY (9)
      KANGAROO MARATHON – 6
      OLD POST GENERAL STORE [CITGO] – 3
   GRAY COURT (2)
      HWY 14 QUICK STOP – 2
   GREENVILLE (127)
      B P STATION – 7
      BUL & NGUYEN LLC. – 4
      CITGO CORNER MART #11 – 2
      CITGO CORNER MART #38 – 1
      CORNER MART #12 – 3
      CORNER MART #17 – 3
      CORNER MART #43 – 10
      CORNER MART #47 – 1
      CORNER MART #8 – 1
      FAST FUELS #6745 – 1
      FRIENDLYS – 2
      GT EXPRESS #7 – 1
      HARVEYS B P – 1
      INGLES GAS EXPRESS – 6
      KANGAROO #3278 – 6
      KANGAROO #3282 – 1
      KANGAROO #3286 – 1
      KANGAROO #773 – 1
      LIL CRICKET #855 – 1
      LIL CRICKET #881 – 2
      MIKE & JACK 1 STOP – 1
      MOTOR MILE EXXON – 2
      QUICK STOP SHELL – 2
      QUICK TRIP #1146 – 8
      QUIKTRIP #01134 – 1
      SAED #1 LLC – 6
      SAM’S CLUB GAS – 7
      SEYMORE’S INC – 1
      SPEEDWAY – 2
      SPINX #112 – 3
      SPINX #116 – 4
      SPINX #105 – 2
      SPINX #110 – 2
      SPINX #114 – 1
      SPINX #127 – 1
      SPINX #130 – 1
      SPINX #140 – 5
      SPINX #146 – 1
      SPINX #179 – 2
      SPINX #251 – 3
      STOP – A – MINIT #17 – 1
      STOP-A-MINIT #15 – 1
      STOP-N-GO – 1
      SUNOCO – 5
      SUNOCO #681 – 3
      SUNOCO STOP & GO – 5
      THE CORNER MART #14 – 1
   GREER (22)
      CORNER MART #53 – 3
      INGLES GAS EXPRESS – 1
      KANGAROO #3280 – 2
      LARSONS # 1 – 4
      SPINX #108 – 2
      SPINX #166031 – 6
      SPINX #192 – 3
      W E WILLIS #4 – 1
   HONEA PATH (3)
      HOT SPOT #46 – 3
   LANDRUM (1)
      WILLIS #5 – 1
   LAURENS (4)
      CORNER MART #55 – 2
      PAVAN FOOD STORE #105 – 1
      PAVAN FOOD STORE #106 – 1
   LYMAN (1)
      SPINX #169 – 1
   MARIETTA (3)
      FOOD SHOP – 1
      SPINX #148 – 2
   MAULDIN (10)
      SPINX #181 – 4
      Xpressway Food Store #24 – 6
   PIEDMONT (5)
      SAV-WAY–212 – 2
      SPINX # 125 – 2
      STOP-A-MINIT #7 – 1
   SENECA (2)
      7 ELEVEN #36822 -1
      EXPRESS MART – 1
   SIMPSONVILLE (29)
      CORNER MART #20 – 2
      CORNER MART #50 – 1
      KC MART – 3
      MIT FOOD MART – 11
      SPINX #111 – 2
      SPINX #193 – 3
      SPINX #201 – 2
      SUNOCO – 1
      WALMART GAS #5371 – 4
   SIX MILE (1)
      SIX MILE KWIK MART – 1
   SPARTANBURG (2)
      FAST STOP – 1
      ONE STOP SUNOCO – 1
   TAYLORS (29)
      7- ELEVEN (PALMS) #36820 – 3
      7-ELEVEN STORE #36840 – 2
      CITGO CORNER MART #31 – 3
      CORNER MART #1 – 4
      LIL CRICKET # 882 – 5
      MURPHY USA #7059 – 1
      SPINX #124 – 3
      SPINX #190 – 3
      THE CORNER MART #13 – 2
      WILLIS #3 – 3
   TRAVELERS REST (30)
      HANDEE MART #10 – 2
      HANDEE MART #4 – 4
      INGLES GAS EXPRESS – 8
      Murphy USA – 5
      S & K ALLIANCE – 2
      SPINX #178 – 6
      WILLIS #2 – 3
   UNION (1)
      LIL CRICKET #3846 – 1

Product Labeling (11)
   ANDERSON (1)
      7 ELEVEN #32896 – 1
   JOANNA (10)
      THE J-MART – 10

Shut Off (3)
   GREENVILLE (1)
      SUNOCO #681 – 1
   SIMPSONVILLE (2)
      MIT FOOD MART – 2

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