The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Weights and Measures did a surprise inspection of 20 heating oil trucks and found 20% have been tampered with the oil meters to cheat consumers.
As the March chill keeps home heating oil companies busy with deliveries, the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Weights and Measures (“OWM”) is making sure winter-weary consumers are getting every gallon of fuel oil they pay for in the final weeks of the fuel season.
In early morning surprise inspections near a Newark fueling depot two weeks ago, OWM’s Fuel Meter Task Force checked trucks for signs of meter tampering or compromised equipment that could result in consumers being charged for more oil than they receive.
“New Jersey residents who rely on oil to heat their homes may purchase hundreds of gallons at a time and they deserve to get every drop they pay for,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “The majority of the oil companies and individuals who operate these trucks are honest. Surprise inspections like this help protect the integrity of the home fuel industry by putting operators on notice that the Division of Consumer Affairs is on the lookout for deliberate efforts to shortchange deliveries.”
OWM, with assistance from county and municipal Weights and Measures offices, annually inspects and certifies commercial weighing and measuring devices used in the state, including the dispensing pumps on oil delivery trucks. Once a pump’s meter has been calibrated and certified, metal seals are put in place to prevent tampering.
In the unannounced inspections conducted on March 1, Task Force members, assisted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (“PANYNJ”) Police Department flagged trucks as they drove toward the depot to load up on the heating fuel before making deliveries to consumers.
Once the trucks were pulled over, Task Force members inspected measuring devices that were compromised or appeared to have been tampered with and checked to see that trucks and drivers had all required documentation. PANYNJ Police provided logistical and security support and conducted safety inspections of the trucks.
Of the 20-delivery home heating oil delivery trucks inspected, four were placed out of commission for serious violations that could have resulted in consumers being shortchanged.
To avoid getting shortchanged on home heating oil deliveries consumers should:
- Demand their heating oil delivery slips and keep them as a record of sale.
- Check that the number of gallons they ordered matches the amount on their tickets.
- Make sure the cost-per-gallon is the same on the delivery ticket as it is on the bill from the oil company.
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