Stuck in the past: Some gas pumps won't charge more than $3.99/gallonby Drew Johnson
$4 a gallon gas is definitely a headache for drivers, but it is posing an even bigger problem for some gas stations. In many rural areas of the country, gas stations with older pumps are discovering their pumps were not made to charge more that $3.99 9/10 per gallon.
One such station -- Engels Repair and Towing -- bought its three gas pumps in 1995, a time when obviously no one thought gas would ever cross the $4 a gallon mark. "When I bought these brand-new in 1995, nobody could imagine gas would ever be higher than $3.99 a gallon," Lou Engels, owner of the station, told SeattlePI.
Engels' pumps can only be set to charge $3.99 9/10 a gallon.
Upgrades for older pumps are available, but because the problem is happening nation-wide, there is at least a 15 week back order on the necessary parts. Purchasing new pumps would also solve the problem but since most of the stations are just small rural operations, they don't have the funds to plunk down on new equipment.
In the meantime, Engels has to make due with posting the correct price on large signs and then multiplying it by the number of gallons purchased. Thankfully, Engels has a fairly loyal -- and understanding -- customer base.
But technically, operating a pump that doesn't display the correct price is unlawful. However, the department of Weights and Measures has been fairly understanding of some stations' situations. "We're allowing them some time to operate under that situation if they can show they're making a good-faith effort to get a retrofit done," siad Kirk Robinson, program manager of Washington state's Weights and Measures Program.