Grant Woman Notices Gas Station’s Pricing Error; Station Was Not In Compliance With State Law

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Are you sick of paying high gas prices? How would you feel expecting to pay one price, but being forced to pay another that's even higher? One woman says that's what happened to her when she stopped at a MAPCO gas station. The woman emailed WHNT NEWS 19's Venton Blandin.

Ellie Childress pumped gas at the MAPCO near Hampton Cove in Huntsville. The gas station has two signs. The problem is, they show different prices. The Grant woman was smart enough to keep her eyes on the pump while filling her car's tank and she's not happy.

Blandin went to the gas station to get a response, but ended up talking to state regulators instead.

Blandin caught up with Childress at her home in Grant. She drives from her home to her job near Hampton Cove every day. Childress made a stop inside the MAPCO gas station in Hampton Cove during her most recent trip.

"I thought I was going to get gas for $3.06. I had looked around and found that one was cheaper than the Walmart gas station's gas priced at $3.13," said Childress.

Childress ended up paying more than she thought.

"When I was pumping, that is when I looked at the gas pump and saw it reading $3.28 which is a 22 cent difference," added Childress.

The Marshall County woman told Blandin she stopped pumping gas.

"I thought I made a mistake. I started looking around and realized it was not me. I saw that it was the sign that was wrong," added Childress.

She decided to walk into the gas station and explain to a clerk what happened.

"She said that she understood that, the sign had been broken for over a month, but the true price was reflected on the sign out in the front," added Childress.

Childress says she was upset and wondered if the gas station was trying to lure in customers.

"I was pretty mad, hurt and just disgusted with it. I went on and finished my purchase thinking I won't ever come here again," added Childress.

She tried all she could at the time, but decided to have Blandin fight for her.

"I've heard of y'all. One of my friends had told me you should call WHNT NEWS 19. He said the station usually takes care of stuff like that," added Childress.

Childress told Blandin it does not take much to fill up her car, but made it clear what his charging orders were.

"What would you like to see me do for you," asked Blandin.

"I would like to see you get it fixed, so it does not hurt someone else. It was minor on me, but it's going to hurt someone who comes in there with a big truck that spends $50-$60 on gas," added Childress.

Blandin went inside the store to talk with management. The manager told Blandin he would have to contact corporate.

Blandin made a call to MAPCO's corporate office in Brentwood, Tennessee. A receptionist transferred Blandin to the company's legal office for a statement. Blandin was forced to leave a message.

Blandin also made a call to Alabama's Department of Agriculture & Industry.

"What ever is on the dispenser has to match what is on the road side signs. If it does not, we will stop the sell until they correct it," said the department's spokesman Stacey Boshell.

The state says it gives gas stations, with problems like the MAPCO, a chance to fix the problem during their initial visit. The department will also stop all gasoline sales if a gas station can't fix the problem at that time.

Within a few minutes of our trip to MAPCO, the gas station turned off both road signs.

The state's Department of Agriculture & Industry spokesman says turning the signs off does make the gas station compliant with state law. No gas station is required to have signs. When the signs are turned back on, we'll be there to make sure the road signs match the pump prices.

MAPCO's Alabama Division Manager, Rick Woods, did provide the following statement to WHNT NEWS 19:

"MAPCO Express, Inc. experienced a price sign malfunction at its Store #5204 in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. One price sign was fully functional and displayed the correct price. The other price sign showed clear evidence of a malfunction. We apologize for any confusion."

Blandin asked Woods what the company plans to do to correct the issue. Woods told Blandin he would have to get back to him with an answer.