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Seventeen oil companies and gasoline service station retailers have been named in a class-action suit that accuses them of overcharging customers at the pump by failing to compensate for changes in gasoline volumes when temperatures rise.
The companies named in the suit include Chevron, 7-Eleven, Valero and Wal-Mart Stores, according to a report by The New York Times.
The consumer fraud suit contends that oil companies fail to take into account the fact that gasoline expands when the temperature exceeds 60 degrees. Therefore, the suit claims, consumers get less energy for each gallon they buy. The suit was filed Wednesday by a small number of truck drivers and motorists in California, the newspaper said.
According to Public Citizen, a consumer association, the oil industry has resisted installing equipment that can adjust gasoline volumes delivered at the pump when temperatures change. While the difference amounts to pennies per gallon, Public Citizen estimates that oil companies end up overcharging consumers by more than $2 billion each year.
The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's largest trade group, has said that changing the existing metering systems would be too costly, while benefits to consumers would be small, The New York Times said.