NEWARK, NJ – With residential heating oil at historically high prices, the State Division of Consumer Affairs today conducted unannounced inspections of home heating oil delivery trucks – and placed three of the 20 inspected trucks out of service because their meters were found to be inaccurate, or had potentially been tampered with.
“Home heating oil in New Jersey now costs more than $4 per gallon – higher than the national average, and near historic highs,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “Consumers who rely on this fuel may purchase hundreds of gallons at a time. They cannot afford to pay for more fuel than they actually receive. By inspecting the trucks that dispense this fuel, we are protecting consumers and ensuring they will get every drop of oil they pay for.”
The Division’s Office of Weights and Measures conducted the inspections near two fueling depots, in Newark and at Duck Island in Mercer County. Weights and Measures inspectors, assisted in Newark by the Port Authority Police Department, flagged the trucks as they drove toward the depots to load up on the heating fuel before making deliveries to consumers. Once the trucks were pulled over, the inspectors checked their meters for accuracy and signs of tampering; and checked that the trucks and drivers had all required documentation. At the site in Newark, the Port Authority Police Department provided logistical and security support, and conducted safety inspections of the home heating oil trucks.
One truck was found to have an inaccurate meter that potentially charged consumers for more oil than they would actually receive. The Weights and Measures inspectors condemned the meter, removing the truck from service until it has been repaired, then re-inspected by Weights and Measures and certified as meeting State standards for accuracy.
Two trucks had meters whose metal seals, put in place to prevent tampering, had been broken. The two meters were also placed out of service, and cannot be used until they have been inspected and certified by Weights and Measures.
Four additional trucks were cited for failure to have the required documentation indicating they had been registered and annually inspected by State or county Weights and Measures officials. The owners of each of the seven trucks will be issued notices of violation and civil penalties of up to $100 for each company’s first violation, up to $250 for a second violation, and up to $500 for a third violation.
“Approximately 300,000 households in New Jersey rely on home heating oil, and those consumers can take steps to ensure they get the full amount they’re paying for,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs said. “Home heating oil merchants must give the consumer a delivery ticket with each sale of home heating oil, and that ticket must include the date of delivery, number of gallons dispensed, per-gallon price, and total price. Consumers should demand that ticket and keep it as record of the sale. Any consumer who suspects they have been cheated should call the State Office of Weights and Measures.”
Acting Director Kanefsky thanked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Port Authority Police Department, for their assistance in this initiative.
The State Office of Weights and Measures, and New Jersey’s county and municipal Offices of Weights and Measures, annually inspect and certify all commercial weighing and measuring devices used in New Jersey, from the scales used at pharmacies, grocery stores and truck weighing stations, to the fuel pumps at gas stations.
Consumers who suspect a problem with the delivery of home heating oil can contact the State Office of Weights and Measures by calling 732-815-4840 or filling out a complaint form found at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.