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Fuel stations deceive consumers by tampering with dispensers

Consumers are once again being shortchanged on purchase of petroleum products, as gasoline stations have been found using software to provide less fuel than what has been paid for.

An inspection team of the Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology (NBSM) today sealed Banglamukhi Oil Store at Sano Bharyang after it was found using software to tamper with the pump calibration to reduce the flow of fuel into the tanks of vehicles. The NSBM is still conducting investigation into the matter, as it is yet to find out people involved in development and installation of the software used to deceive unsuspecting consumers.

NBSM Director General Bishwo Babu Pudasaini said a case would be filed against the owner of the fuel station at the District Administration Office (DAO), Kathmandu soon and additional probe would be initiated in coordination with police. “We have been suspicious of this kind of scam for almost a year. But we found nothing during inspections, until this time,” said Pudasaini. “The NBSM will inspect petrol pumps across the country soon to ensure consumers are not being duped.”

The fuel station at Sano Bharyang was found to have installed software inside the fuel dispenser of Gilbarco brand, a US based fuel management solution provider, to reduce the outflow of fuel. “The software deployed by the fuel station was capable of reducing the outflow of fuel by up to four per cent,” informed Pudasaini. “But consumers would not know the pump had dispensed less fuel than what they had paid for, as the digital screen on the dispenser was calibrated accordingly.”

Though NBSM team had inspected Banglamukhi Oil Store in the past too, Pudasaini said its owner had been able to put a veil on the fraudulent act by deactivating the software during those visits.

However, a month ago the NBSM found three fuel stations in Bara deceiving customers using a similar technique which prompted it to probe deeper into the matter. The NBSM has sealed those petrol pumps. “Though we had received complaints about those fraudulent activities numerous times in the past, our probe was affected due to lack of technical expertise,” said Pudasaini.

Fuel stations in the country have time and again been found using different techniques to tamper with dispensers to deceive consumers.

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