July 17, 2007
CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522, ext. 305, or cell: 213-280-0175
ExxonMobil Pump Decals Will Admit "Hot Fuel" Ripoff to Consumers;
Group Demands the Next Step: Fix the Problem
Santa Monica, CA — ExxonMobil will put decals on its gasoline pumps
in California and Arizona acknowledging that "hot fuel" may not deliver
the full value of a gallon of gasoline, according to a report in the
industry publication Oil Express. Exxon took the step to protect itself
from class-action lawsuits that accuse marketers of defrauding drivers
with "hot fuel," said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
FTCR said ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, should
have announced plans to fix the problem, which would have gained its
brand market share and consumer confidence. Instead, said FTCR, the
company is just fending off lawsuits and making drivers angrier.
"A cheap decal is like a tobacco pack warning," said Judy
Dugan, research director of OilWatchdog.org and FTCR. "It may be Teflon
against lawsuits, but it offers no protection to consumers. The cost of
each decal may be less than the 50 cents a fill-up that consumers are
paying for ‘ghost gas,’ the lost energy of fuel sold at high
The Oil Express report says the wording of the decal will be:
"This device dispenses motor fuel by volume measured in
gallons. It does not adjust the volume for variations in the
temperature of the fuel. The temperature of motor fuel affects the
energy content of each gallon dispensed."
"The loss is perhaps 50 cents per hot full tank for individual
motorists, and the collective loss to motorists in California alone is
estimated at about $450 million a year in California," said Dugan.
"ExxonMobil can’t evade its responsibility to sell gasoline fairly and
honesty with a decal essentially saying ‘Yeah, we rip you off and what
are you going to do about it.’ "
ExxonMobil’s action follows a similar decal warning ordered by
refiner Tesoro at its California stations, including the small USA
Petroleum chain and more than 250 Shell stations recently acquired by
Tesoro. At the time, other companies denied that they would follow
suit, said FTCR.
U.S. manufacturer Gilbarco already makes a gasoline pump nozzle
that measures the temperature of gasoline as it leaves the pump, and it
is widely used in Canada (where sellers benefit from lower gasoline
temperatures). The head of the California Weights and Measures board
has stated that the pump may be sold and used in California, but
Gilbarco has declined to offer it for sale.
Gasoline is adjusted for temperature variations from the
national standard of 60 degrees when it is sold by the refinery to
distributors, and when it is sold again to retailers. At each stage,
the buyer receives extra gasoline to make up for expansion and energy
loss if the fuel is over 60 degrees. However, the fuel is sold without
any temperature adjustment to motorists, causing an annual loss of $2.3
billion to drivers nationally. In California, the statewide average
year-round temperature of gasoline is over 74 degrees, according to a
"Sales must be honest to be fair. Yet the industry from the
refinery level on down cheats both motorists and taxpayers by
pretending that fuel is 60 degrees in order to fatten their own
profits," said Dugan.
The Oil Express article said ExxonMobil would require the decal
at its company-owned and franchised stations, and would "encourage"
others that sell the ExxonMobil brand to display the decal.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is
California’s leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. For
more information, visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org and www.OilWatchdog.org.