Gas pumps fail hundreds of inspections in South Florida

WEST PARK, Fla. – Hundreds of gas pumps in South Florida failed inspections during the last 18 months, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

There are a few state inspectors regularly checking the security seals and searching for devices that are used to steal customers’ credit card information.

Inspectors also test for accuracy by measuring what comes out of each pump twice. This is to make sure consumers are getting exactly what they pay for.

“We will look for any sediment and or contamination. We look for a blend. It will look misty, cloudy,” Juan Gonzalez, one of three state inspectors in Miami-Dade County, said about the visual test.

According to the agency, there are 742 gas stations with 7,018 gas pumps in Miami-Dade County. There are also 540 stations with 5,458 pumps in Broward County and 109 stations with 534 pumps in Monroe County.

During the past 18 months, the state has performed 24,375 inspections in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties — and 463 of those tests have failed.

Inspectors add the state agency's seal of approval after a gas pump passes tests for security and accuracy. (Copyright 2022 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

That’s less than 2%. Inspectors attributed all of the failures to technical glitches, records show. They have found the tech is keeping fraudsters away.

“These pumps are harder and harder to tamper with,” Gonzalez said later adding, “It has gotten so sophisticated that if someone tried to tamper with the pump, both sides will shut down.”

The gas station removes the pumps from service until the repairs are made. The inspectors add the agency’s seal of approval to the gas pumps that passed the test.

“I do not see fraud on a daily or weekly basis. It has improved significantly especially since everyone has updated to the new EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chip readers,” Gonzalez said.

According to the state agency, there is no set inspection frequency. Testing is assigned by risk, which is calculated by considering factors such as the last inspection date, previous inspection results, and the number of consumer complaints.

After a consumer complaint, an inspector can spend hours at one station alone. Gonzalez said he is ready to respond to the next consumer complaint.

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.