Concerns about whether drivers in Michigan are getting what they pay for at the fuel pump has spurred the state Legislature
to approve a bill that would impose hefty fines on fuel stations that
The Senate unanimously approved
the bill April 20. The House did the same Tuesday, April 25, clearing the way
for the bill to move to Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s desk for her signature.
The bill – HB4502 – was introduced
last year before the rash of hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast. However, fuel
prices that approached $3 per gallon in the state following the storms caused
many drivers to question whether they were getting what they paid for.
Supporters said the bill was
intended to target station owners who purposely cheat the public with inaccurate
“I wanted to make sure this
legislation strongly targeted those stations that are intentionally defrauding
the public,” Rep. Richard Ball, R-Bennington Township, said in a written
statement. “We understand that occasionally pumps malfunction or a mistake is
made, but those stations that are adjusting their pumps at the expense of the
customers should be severely punished.”
Rep. Fran Amos, R-Waterford, said
the bill would offer customers an added layer of protection.
“Since there is no way for a
customer to actually see how much (fuel) they are getting or test the grade
themselves, it is important they can trust the station to give them what they
are paying for,” Amos said in a written statement. “As with any public trust,
those that purposely abuse it should be strongly penalized.”
Existing Michigan law limits the
fines for first-offense quantity violations to between $50 and $1,000.
In addition to other penalties,
the new measure would make station owners who intentionally short customers pay
a civil fine of $5,000 for a first offense. A second offense would cost
stations $10,000, and a third offense would carry a $25,000.
The Michigan Department of
Agriculture would be given authority to shut down a station’s pumps until the
problem is corrected. The department would be required to annually inspect
stations with three or more intentional violations.
Consumers in Michigan who believe
they’ve been bilked at the pump should call the state’s Department of
Agriculture hot line at 1-800-MDA-FUEL (1-800-632-3835).