Tesco was fined £18,000 with £6,500 costs by Magistrates in Caerphilly for selling short measure fuel to their customers between October 2007 and July 2008 at its Ystrad Mynach petrol station.

Tesco pleaded guilty to 6 specimen offences of delivering short measure fuel and using unjust measuring equipment between October 2007 and July 2008.

During this period over 9.2 million litres of fuel were sold at the Tesco petrol station. This problem finally came to light as the result of a routine inspection by Caerphilly Trading Standards Officers in July 2008.

The short measure problem was caused by an incorrect modification to the chip and pin readers, which affected 3 of the 6 fuel pumps at the petrol station in October 2007.

All grades of fuel on these 3 pumps were affected with 18 of the 36 fuel nozzles giving a 4% short measure for 8 months.

No accuracy checks or tests were carried out on the affected pumps by the engineers who carried out the modification work or any Tesco staff at the time of the modifications or any time afterwards.

This allowed the short measure problem to go unchecked and un-noticed until Trading Standards Officers conducted a routine inspection in July 2008.

The loss to the consumers of Caerphilly has been estimated at 168,000 litres over the 8 month period, during which fuel prices increased by up to 32% Measuring equipment like petrol pumps are very strictly controlled in order that consumers have confidence in the amount of product that they purchase.

Tesco failed to operate within those strict controls and take the appropriate steps to prevent this happening in the first place.

They then compounded those initial errors by not testing the accuracy of the equipment at any time in the 8 months, allowing the short measure to continue.

Jacqui Morgan, Trading Standards & Licensing Manager said, “This has been a significant case for Trading Standards due to the size of the problem and the length of time it went undetected.

It clearly shows the importance of Weights & Measures legislation that applies to such equipment to prevent problems occurring in the first place and the safety net of inspections carried out by fully independent Trading Standards officers in protecting the interests of the public.”

In February 2009 Tesco implemented a refund system for customers who had purchased fuel during the 8-month period. Cabinet Member for Environment and Housing, Cllr Lynn Ackerman said, “I am glad that Tesco have now taken a responsible position over this matter with the majority of their customers being offered reimbursement for the short measure.

However Tesco have known about this problem since July 2008 and it has taken the impending court date to focus their attention and give back to their customers what was owed. “

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