Fuel retailers fined after being caught short at the bowser

Nine fuel retailers have been fined after a national audit by the National Measurement Institute.
An inspector holds a sign saying fuel accuracy testing in progress at a petrol station.

NMI fuel inspectors regularly test for accuracy.

Nine fuel retailers have been fined a total of $15,750, after being found short measuring customers during a national audit by the National Measurement Institute (NMI).

In addition, $6300 in fines to a further three companies and, for some severe and repeat offenders, four referrals to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions are still being considered as part of NMI’s enforcement activities.

Acting CEO at NMI, Bill Loizides, said NMI was paying attention to non-compliance of fuel pumps because of a worrying trend identified in its compliance data for 2017-18.

“The proportion of fuel pumps found to be inaccurate to consumer disadvantage doubled over a two year period, from 2.4 per cent of inspected pumps in 2015-16 to 4.8 per cent in 2017-18,” Mr Loizides said.

“While we accept that the great majority of fuel retailers are doing the right thing, the one-in-20 pumps found during the audit to be under-pouring is an unacceptable level of non-compliance, especially when we provided plenty of warning that our inspectors would be on the look-out.

“Fuel retailers who don’t properly maintain their pumps to ensure they remain accurate at all times should be aware that we’ll be following up with another concentrated audit campaign in 2020, where they can expect a similar approach to any non-compliance identified.”

NMI trade measurement inspectors visited 328 retail fuel sites across Australia and tested 1,340 fuel pumps during the April audit.

Over seven per cent – 97 – of the fuel pumps tested were found to be inaccurate outside the 0.3 per cent maximum permissible error (MPE) allowed under Australia’s trade measurement laws. This included 65 pumps, or almost one-in-20 of those tested, that were delivering less than indicated on the display.

Six companies have also received warning letters following the audit campaign.

Consumers and business who want more information on Australia’s trade measurement laws or are concerned about potential breaches of the rules should contact the National Trade Measurement helpline on 1300 686 664 or infotm@measurement.gov.au.

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