Rant: Out of Order Gas Station

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    This evening I stopped by the gas station near my home, which I will not name currently because I want to try and make additional contact with either an owner or what ever agency regulates gas stations. A friend and I pulled up to the pump (he was test driving my car on the way home from the movies to see if he liked paddle shifters) and I got out to pay and pump the gas. He popped the driver door open as I was pumping to talk about the shifters and then pointed out that the hose on my gas pump was missing several inches of the rubber covering and gasoline was spraying all over me while I was pumping into my car. Of course I quickly removed the pump, which almost didn’t shut off since the latch in the handle also seemed broken, and ran inside the store to tell the attendant that this pump was definitely out of order. He just responded to me “So what?!” and “What do you want?” and continued to brush me off. I nearly got sprayed in the face/eyes but luckily turned away as I pulled the pump out, the next customer shouldn’t even have to risk that happening. So I ran back out, grabbed my receipt for finishing the transaction ($4 of gas a portion of which I was wearing) and decided I’d get my gas tomorrow at Costco during my lunch break. As we went to leave the station an SPD officer had gone into the store to purchase something, so I went back in hoping maybe the officer would hear me talk to the attendant but he was ahead of me in line and I didn’t want to create a scene. The attendant still brushed me off and said he turned off the pump but had turned off the wrong one and someone had already pulled up to the broken one and started pumping (the guy had already switched by the time I walked out). Meanwhile I’m standing there coated in gasoline (on my month old down jacket no less) with the one employee in the store who doesn’t seem to have enough comprehension of what I’m saying nor how dangerous it is to have gasoline spraying on unsuspecting customers! He then thought I was saying the pump fell off the hose, when I said no he seemed fine with it. I said he needed to put an out of order sign on it, he said he just started his shift and didn’t know. Ok well I’m telling you now it’s out of order please go hang one of the yellow covers on the pump this is a safety hazard. Yeah yeah I turn it off.

    I’m home, showered, my jacket is on the gentle cycle but I expect it will continue to smell of gasoline after it dries. I intend on calling the station tomorrow with hopes of getting a manager/owner or contacting the company.

    Is there any regulatory/inspection authority at the city or state level to report maintenance issues? Something like the health dept is to a restaurant? I can wash my stuff, but such a nonchalance over a blatant safety issue should not be happening and needs reported somewhere.



    yeah, there’s a state agency. department of weights and measures, i think.

    every gas pump must be inspected by the state (or a contracted third party, i assume) yearly – or maybe biennially – and every pump should have a current inspection sticker on it.

    go back and look at the offending pump and find its sticker. should be a phone number on there.

    and i’m pretty sure the parent oil company will have a number posted somewhere nearby to report problems.



    Here’s a Linky Thingy to the City of Seattle Weights and Measures:


    That’s the agency that I recall performing the pump audits, back in the ’80’s, when I managed a parking garage, with gasoline service, in Downtown Seattle.



    I wonder if Seattle Fire Department would want to know about this?



    Thanks for the tips, I’ll check them out. I couldn’t for the life of me remember who was on those inspection tags you stare at when pumping gas! A friend of mine that works at a minimart in Montana said to go back in when the manager is there too, her store has a protocol that refunds the gas and pays any repairs/cleaning.

    Thankfully my jacket fared ok in the wash and a hang dry last night, still has a light gas smell but at least there can’t be any physical gas on it. Will probably take a while to dissipate the odor.

    Even this morning I’m still surprised for as busy and modern of a station this was how badly they just ignored the issue.



    Actually naming this station and pump # would be helpful…



    I would think it would be okay in this case to name the station. It’s a public safety hazard right now if this is happening more than once, and it’s not like you just came on here to rant against a business – you’re actively trying to get in touch with the owner and/or a regulatory agency about it. I need to get a tank of gas and after reading this I’m trying to figure out if I’m up for a game of roulette to see if I find the station with the faulty pump. :)



    The flashpoint for gas is 40 degrees. You are very lucky,, fumes are explosive. Since gas is a hazardous material I would of called the Fire Department. You have leaking fumes, vapors and the station? should be closed until situation is evaluated. If I knew where the station was,, I would be on the phone with SFD now



    It was the Delridge Arco next to Home Depot and the Police Station. Pump 5, it’s the corner pump closest to the intersection. It was coming out as a mist/spray but saturated the lower part of my jacket between my rib cage and waist and the cuffs/sleeves as I fumbled around trying to figure out what was happening. Only pumped a gallon by the time I realized it. Had my friend not been with me wanting to chat about test driving my car I probably wouldn’t have noticed so quickly.

    I have contacted the Arco parent website and am in the process of getting the info to the right agency. Been a long day at work so I couldn’t take further actions. I did end up stopping at Costco to fill the rest of the way up same price today too!



    Three years ago, I had an issue with this same ARCO station, and when I tried to contact the store owner he did not answer my calls.

    I called ARCO HQ about it and was told to take up my complaint with the “franchisee” (i.e., the store owner) because ARCO wasn’t responsible for what franchisees did.

    I’ll be interested to find out what you hear back from ARCO on this. Please keep us informed.



    thanks for alerting us and letting us know the location. i forwarded to my other half and he said, ‘aha- that explains it. I bought gas the other day and then had to drive around with all the windows open due to the over-powering fumes.’



    I’ll be sure to update if I get any feedback. I also emailed the city department of weights and measures. Their consumer concern form sounds more like it’s for being inappropriately charged for what was dispensed but I figure if they have to inspect the pumps it might as well at least go on the record for that location and hopefully they’ll forward the concern to a more appropriate department. (I know that’s a tall order for a city dept but I have my hopes there might be a system or sympathetic or similarly concerned employee.)

    People have a lot of feelings about the quality of Arco gas but this was my favorite station, it’s consistently the best price of the 3 choices between home and work without going off my route. I’ve only lived in this part of town for just less than a year so it sounds like I’m going to have to find a more reliable station… and one with window squeegees while I’m at it! :)



    I was googling and found an article about a Seattle gas station where a tank had a leak (different than this, I know) and they mentioned working with Seattle Public Utilities and Washington Department of Ecology. I wonder if it would be helpful to contact either/both of them about it and let everybody sort out who’s in charge here.




    Contact the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Their web address is pscleanair.org

    From the home page follow the links to “Contact Us” then Questions & Comments [Register a complaint] and you can either call or submit an online form. There is a specific form for a gasoline station nozzle leak. Hope this helps.



    Just to add to what Bofus said: The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency administers and enforces the Clean Air Act in King County (as well as Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties), and therefore has responsibility for ensuring that gas stations comply with emissions regulations. In addition to a bunch of annual and semi-annual tests gas station owners are required to do, they must check their hoses and nozzles often enough to see if there’s a leak. If they are notified of a leak, they are required to fix it immediately, or the station can be shut down until they do fix it. So complaining to the Agency might make something happen.

    The Agency has a link to an online complaint form here:




    Many many thanks to my resourceful West Seattle neighbors! You all make me so glad I moved to a real community last spring!

    I got a reply from the city weights and measures group, they are going to the station to inspect the pump (they do have jurisdiction over broken/malfunctioning equipment) if found that is still not in working order it will be put out of service until its repaired. The city will contact me regarding their findings.

    BP/Arco also replied today, sounded mostly boilerplate about the station being franchise owned but that my letter would be forwarded to the franchise owner as well as the regional BP franchise representative to follow up on their next visit.

    On my way home tonight I saw someone parked at pump 5 and hope that it was repaired since Sunday night. In all honesty I really just want to make sure the station takes a malfunctioning gas pump seriously and immediately because gasoline is so hazardous. Everyone is very lucky nothing more serious happened and I hope now they’ll understand that safety needs to be a priority!



    I’ve always been hesitant to use either the Arco OR the Shell at that corner. The area often smells so strongly of gas that I smell it all the way home after filling up at the Shell.

    Good to know about the “misty” nozzle – that may be what’s happening at the Shell too. It hadn’t occurred to me to check for a nozzle leak. It’s bad enough that my spouse and I call it “The Stinky Shell” when using it as a landmark. If I ever fill up there again, I’ll check. Like most people, I am a creature of habit and tend to use the same pump — furthest north and furthest west. If anyone else fills up at that pump, have you noticed the same thing?


    4th of Eight

    In all seriousness, maybe it’s time to ‘Get Jesse!’ (Jesse Jones @ KING T.V.)

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