INVESTIGATES: ‘Gas not worth a damn’ reported all over Jacksonville

·5 min read

Action News Jax Investigates is warning you about a different kind of pain at the pump besides gas prices. It’s fueling anger for customers like Mike Willey.

“It’s a major concern when you are paying almost $5 a gallon for gas that’s not worth a damn,” Willey told Action News Jax Investigator Ben Becker.

>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<<

BAD GAS FOUND

An Action News Jax investigation found dozens of cases in Northeast Florida opened by the Florida Department of Agriculture in the past 12 months for gas pumps that failed inspections or were in non-compliance.

This includes issues like pricing, accuracy and fuel quality -- otherwise known as bad gas.

Read: ‘I’m not ripping people off’ says local tree service accused of leaving a customer stumped

“We are doing a story about the bad gas that was found here,” Becker said to a worker at the Gate Gas Station on San Pablo Parkway. “You are not allowed to be on here,” said the worker. “You can leave our property.”

A state inspector issued a stop sale in March, when the state discovered the E15 blend was really a higher blend of 18.20%. The state fined the station $500.

According to the state, “Ethanol content is critical for some vehicles that are not designed to operate on the higher level of ethanol content, therefore assuring that the product meets the labeled ethanol content is extremely important so the consumer can make an informed choice when purchasing fuel. In some cases, the higher level of ethanol may reduce the vehicle’s fuel mileage and possibly void the manufacturer’s warranty.”

Send Ben: ‘They ghosted us,’ says local couple about online mattress company

Bad gas can also mean water in your fuel that can damage your engine. Action News Jax put together a map of the 23 local gas stations the state says had complaints against them in the last year. The list includes Gate, BP, Citgo, Kangaroo Express, Murphy USA, Race Trac, Shell, Sam’s Club, 76, Speedway, Sun Express and Sunoco.

“When I say tainted gas, you say what?” Becker asked Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried. “We are here to make sure what the consumer is purchasing, they’re getting exactly what they purchased.”

Then Becker asked her, “How do we know if it is fraud with a gas station and bad gas or just bad luck?” Fried replied, “Well, that’s our job.”

DOZENS OF LOCAL SKIMMERS FOUND

During the past 18 months, the state performed 111,851 pump inspections in Florida and found fuel quality isn’t the only problem at the pump -- there is also a lot of skimmers.

They are devices that thieves attach over a real credit card slot to steal your cash.

The state found 1,718 skimmers over the past two years. They discovered 40 in Duval County, 13 in St. Johns County, and nine in Nassau.

INVESTIGATES: Push to allow homes at the end of Haller Airpark runway in Green Cove Springs

“What if I told you at one point this pump had a skimmer?” Becker asked. “I’d believe it,” answered customer Justin Collins as he was pumping gas from pump #6 at the Shell on Beach Boulevard at St. Johns Bluff Road.

“I’ve been told a couple different things, look for the sticker,” Collins said.

Collins is talking about a security sticker applied by the state which is one of many security features on gas pumps. It should not be broken. Becker went inside the gas station and the owner told him they are keeping a closer eye on their pumps.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

As for Gate, they sent this statement:

“It is factually inaccurate to classify this matter as the sale of “bad” or “tainted” gas. The facts are, at a routine Department of Agriculture inspection of the GATE on San Pablo Parkway, it was determined the E15 gasoline dispensed from four pumps contained slightly more than 15% ethanol. The slightly increased level of ethanol was not harmful to vehicles. We received no customer complaints. Again, this was at four pumps at one store and represented less than 1% of daily fuel sales at this location. That said, we strive to always provide the highest-quality product to our customers and, when notified, GATE worked with state inspectors and petroleum contractors to correct the E15 blend at these dispensers.”

But that’s not good enough for Willey who is closing the door on Gate.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

“I’m not coming back here,” said Willey. “Never?” asked Becker. “Never ever,” responded Willey.

According to Florida Department of Agriculture, “There is no set inspection frequency as stations are generally inspected based on a risk factor, which is calculated on items such as the last inspection date, previous inspection results, number of consumer complaints, etc. Please note that ALL consumer complaints are investigated and stations are inspected regardless of the risk factor when a consumer complaint is filed.”

You can file a complaint online or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

Gas stations throughout the Jacksonville area the state listed as having complaints against them in the past year:

  • Mobil, 851 Arlington Rd. N., Jacksonville

  • Chevron, 1312 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park (closed)

  • Kangaroo Express, 721 Chaffee Rd. S., Jacksonville

  • Shell, 11066 Old St. Augustine Rd., Jacksonville

  • Exxon, 12753 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville

  • Shell, 620 Chaffee Rd. S., Jacksonville

  • 76, 2197 Kings Rd., Jacksonville

  • Shell, 9115 Merrill Rd., Jacksonville

  • Shell, 10716 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville

  • Gate, 10980 New Kings Rd., Jacksonville

  • Hannah Park Food Mart, 501 Mayport Rd., Atlantic Beach

  • Kangaroo Express, 4856 Park St., Jacksonville

  • Kangaroo Express, 721 Chaffee Rd. S., Jacksonville

  • Citgo, 3260 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville

  • Murphy USA, 6706 103rd St., Jacksonville

  • Sam’s Club, 6373 Youngerman Circle, Jacksonville

  • Kangaroo Express, 2919 Coastal Highway, St. Augustine (closed)

  • Sunoco, 10095 U.S. 1, St. Augustine

  • Murphy USA, 1570 Branan Field Rd., Middleburg

  • BP, 158 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park

  • Chevron, 1312 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park (closed)

  • Gate, 3210 U.S. 17, Fleming Island

  • Gate, 4121 San Pablo Parkway, Jacksonville

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.