Pumps hardly hosing Canadians

By Jon Roe

Stop the presses, Canadians are getting hosed at the pump. At least that’s what a Canwest News Service investigation found. Five per cent of gas pumps tested in Canada failed government inspections by pumping out less gas than they should have, most of them between 30 and 60 cents less.

As gas prices skyrocket, everything surrounding the oil industry, gas stations and their gas pumps will be under a microscope as people try to save money. This issue has gotten some play down in the U.S. as well as similar investigations examined gas pumps and their inspection procedures. The complaints in both Canada and the U.S. centred on people not getting their money’s worth. If the issue is how much money you’re spending at the pumps, then instead of focusing on the loose change that you might be losing if you happen to hit a faulty pump, focus on behavioural decisions that lower gas consumption and save money­–such as driving one day less a week or carpooling.

Inaccurate pumps are a minor problem that can easily be addressed by increasing inspections, something federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice already ordered earlier this week. Unfortunately, this minor problem has been inflated. The NDP have taken on this issue as another corporations are shafting hard-working, honest, tax-paying Canadians issue.

“This confirms the suspicion that millions of Canadians have had,” federal NDP leader Jack Layton told Canwest News Service. “That they are being hosed at the pump.”

The words are strong, but if a Canadian loses 60 cents each time they fill their tank, and they fill it up once every two weeks, it would cost $15.60 a year–assuming they fill up at the same pump for the entire year, which may be a stretch.

A year ago, the NDP introduced a private member’s bill to establish an ombudsman to field complaints and protect consumers from “unfair gas pricing,” which likely means prices the NDP felt were too high for consumers. For a party trying to attack the Conservatives on their terrible environmental record, aiming to lower gas prices for consumers and getting them more gas for their money is hypocritical.

A Calgary Herald reader suggested a simple cost-saving measure in a letter published Sunday. Drive 10 kilometres per hour slower and take an extra few minutes to do a long drive. Gas pump inspections should, and will, happen, but this issue was portrayed as larger than it is. People should make more behavioural decisions to save money on gas, rather than looking for others to help them.

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