Some gas stations overcharging customers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - WBTV has found evidence that some gas stations are over-charging their customers.

A cell phone camera caught a pump in Alabama ticking higher before the man ever put the nozzle in his gas tank.

We wanted to know what state officials are doing to protect you from the same thing.

So we met up with George Grier, who inspects pumps for North Carolina in Mecklenburg County.

Grier's job has never felt more important.

"We're going to pump five gallons out of the dispenser into this prover," he said as he filled several big tanks from a Shell station.  Every day, he's weighing and measuring, making sure that malfunctioning pumps "are not cheating people out of gas."

A gas pump's computer can run faster than the pump itself...racking up charges...before any gas has actually hit your tank.

"Two or three cents will jump up on the meter, before you even start pumping," Grier says. "It can add up to be a lot. We had an issue probably a few years ago with a lot of computer jumps."

Grier says the county had to really crack down.

"That's not good," said Charlotte resident Myron Hill as he filled his own tank. "I think we're getting over-charged in the first place."

It's the last thing drivers like Hill want to hear when prices are already so high.

"It's affecting me and my whole family," he said. "Sometimes, it's hard to pay for the gas to get to work and back."

Wondering whether pumps are working properly will add to Hill's worries. "I'll wonder about it," he said. "I don't think there's anything I can do about it."

Actually, there is.

"Before you stick the pump in, make sure the meter is zeroed out," Grier said. "If you have zeros all across the meter and it jumps up before you start pumping, that is a computer jump."

There's a number posted on pumps that you can call to get inspectors on site.

Grier said in the vast majority of cases, this is not something gas station owners do on purpose. But he says pumps do need maintenance, or they can malfunction.