Dublin service station fined €14k for fuel overcharging
Owners found guilty of selling short measures at the pumps
THE first successful prosecution of a service station for using fuel pumps which "under-measure" the amount of petrol and diesel being sold to motorists has taken place.
Investigators believe that the Top Oil service station, trading as One Oil, on Dublin's Usher's Quay, was overcharging by €1.80 on a typical 50-litre fill of fuel.
Essentially, motorists were not getting the right amount of petrol or diesel for the money they paid because the pumps were incorrectly calibrated.
The petrol station, which enjoys one of the most central locations in Dublin city, was fined €14,000 in Dublin District Court after pleading guilty to the offences of using an unverified instrument and selling short fuel measures.
The case was brought by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) after it received a number of complaints from consumers about the station.
In August 2010, inspectors visited the station and examined fuel pumps. They discovered a significant number of non-compliance issues relating to the amount of fuel being dispensed and the price charged.
These were reported to the garage owners, who were instructed to immediately rectify the problems.
However, in response to further complaints from members of the public in February 2011, inspectors from the authority's Legal Metrology Service (LMS) revisited the premises and discovered that the fuel pumps, which had been rectified, had broken seals and were "significantly under-measuring petrol and diesel being sold to consumers".
After considering the facts, the director of LMS decided to prosecute.
Following yesterday's court case, an NSAI spokesman said that inspectors had recently revisited the service station and found that the fuel pumps were now correctly calibrated.
NSAI chief executive Maurice Buckley said: "This successful prosecution in the service station sector underscores the important work of LMS in helping to protect consumers from unscrupulous traders."
During 2010, inspectors visited almost 4,000 premises and tested more than 17,000 measuring instruments used in trade, such as supermarket weighing scales and taxi meters.
"We are not in the business of putting people out of business, but prosecuting persistently non-compliant traders is as important as ever to protecting consumers," added Mr Buckley.
Almost 8,000 fuel pumps at 1,300 service stations were also inspected in 2010. More than 2,000 warnings, which require corrective action such as minor adjustments or recalibration of equipment, were issued to traders.
Pat Farragher, LMS director, said they aimed to encourage high measurement compliance in trading transactions.
During last year, 10 successful prosecutions were taken against taxi drivers for using meters that were not properly calibrated.