Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hot fuel report right on the money

This is a tip of the hat to television reporter Bob Segall and WTHR-TV Channel 13 in Indianapolis.

Segall recently presented a report on how the temperature of fuel affects the amount of fuel consumers receive at the pump. If you’ve been playing along at home, you know the issue as “hot fuel” and that consumer groups have filed lawsuits against oil companies and retailers to get it corrected.

Hot fuel is what consumers receive when the fuel temperature is above 60 degrees. That’s a century-old standard used by oil refiners and retailers when they trade fuel above the rack. At the consumer pumps, there is no such standard, so whether it’s on purpose or not, retailers are charging for fuel that consumers never see when it’s above 60 degrees.

Segall showed the state weights and measure director doing something that the reporter said the official has never done before: measuring the temperature of fuel being dispensed. Segall got readings from 66 degrees up to 71 degrees, even though the ambient air temperature was 52 degrees.

We tip the hat to Segall because he took the time to talk to truckers who routinely spend $600 or more to fill up their tanks.

Segall presented a fair piece, interviewing people from the oil industry to tell their side – that installing temperature compensation equipment on all fuel pumps is cost-prohibitive.

Segall interviewed motorists who had no idea that fuel temperature affected their purchase. They were surprised when the reporter informed them that hot fuel costs consumers about $1 per fill-up on a passenger vehicle.

“It seems like a scam,” one motorist said.

The story is easy to follow, filled with good camera shots and interviews, and is overall one of the best we’ve found to date on this important consumer issue. Click here to view it.