Gas stations must make their prices for card purchases clear on signs
Q. I got taken by a bait-and-switch scam one night recently at a gas station in Huntington Beach. Nice, bright letters on a sign said a gallon of gas was going for $3.89, and an unlit sign said it was $4.75 if you use a debit card. Total insane scam. Never saw the unlit sign that says $4.75! Well, guess who just paid more than $33 for seven gallons? Pay attention, folks. It’s ridiculous they are getting away with this.
Matt Bustamante, Huntington Beach
A. More than once Honk has stood next to a pump and grumbled about eyeballing the wrong price and overpaying.
Turns out that gas station owners can get penalized by the state for failing to fairly advertise.
“That is not OK,” Jay Van Rein, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said when he heard your scenario. His agency oversees various regulations including those concerning gas stations’ signs. “They both have to be plainly visible from the street,” he said of those listings.
There are very precise requirements for gas station signs, Van Rein told Honk, including the size of the lettering and numbers, the labeling, where the signs are posted, and the lighting.
Although state laws, they are often enforced locally. To get the proper inspector on the case, find the telephone number that’s to be listed on or near the pump or close to the cash-register area and dial it up; look for a sticker that says “County Sealer of Weights and Measures.”
An inspector is to come out, tell the owner to get it right, and, if he or she doesn’t, the owner could end up in a hearing facing a fine of $50 to $1,000 or more for breaking the law.
By the way, gas stations where memberships are required, such as Costcos, don’t have to follow the same signage laws.
Q. Why does Caltrans label the carpool lanes on the freeway as “HOV” lanes? I know that HOV stands for High Occupancy Vehicle but not everyone does. Everybody understands and uses “carpool” lanes. I am 72 years old, and I have never heard anyone refer to them as “HOV” lanes. So why do the knuckleheads in Sacramento label them as “HOV” lanes? The freeways are confusing enough.
Gordon Calac, Irvine
A. Blame Uncle Sam.
Every decade or so, federal transportation officials come out with their guidelines, said David Matza, a Caltrans spokesman in Orange County, with states following them. And the feds call them HOV lanes.
The goal is to make markings and terms the same throughout the country, so a Maryland resident visiting California feels comfortable on the roadways.
That mindset – of having states use the same standards – is why California’s double-yellow lines are going white.
Honkin’ fact: Motorists who are hungry but snarled in Mexico City’s bumper-to-bumper traffic can now get Burger King to dispatch motorcyclists to them with their orders. A driver can tell a hands-free, cellphone app that he wants a Whopper, and if the app determines the vehicle will be stuck in traffic for a half-hour or more and is within 1.8 miles of a Burger King restaurant, the burger or other food item is on the way. It’s unclear if there is an extra charge, but we will find out soon enough: The program, called the Traffic Jam Whopper, is coming to other cities seriously troubled by congestion, the chain says, such as Shanghai and Los Angeles. (Source: The Washington Post).
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