The Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest on Wednesday slapped Bhadrakali Oil Store, Gothatar with a fine of Rs200,000 for giving customers short measure.
This is the first time following the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act 2018 that the regulator has carried out spot checks on fuel traders and taken instant action against market wrongdoing. The act allows the concerned authorities to levy a spot fine of Rs200,000-300,000 against errant traders.
According to the department, a joint market inspection team consisting of officials of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology found that the petrol pump had tampered with the fuel dispenser to dispense less fuel than what customers were paying for.
“The pump was giving customers 25-35 millilitres less for every litre of gasoline sold,” said Deepak Raj Pokharel, market monitoring officer at the department. “Accuracy tests were conducted a number of times, and the petrol pump failed each time.”
Last month, Parliament endorsed the Consumer Protection Act which prohibits traders from cheating consumers by engaging in adulteration, giving short measure or over-charging. As per the law, a short measure of up to 10-15 millilitres for every litre of gasoline is permissible.
Pokharel said they had told the proprietor of the petrol pump to pay the fine to the department within a week. The department has also ordered the fuel station to get its fuel dispatch nozzle fixed within that time, according to Pokharel.
During past inspections too, gasoline stations were found to be cheating customers by tampering with their equipment. A few months ago, NOC sealed Ekantakuna-based Prashanti Oil Distributor and Chapagaun Dobato-based Mahalaxmi Oil Centre for giving short measure.
Market inspection teams have also uncovered short measure scams in which gasoline traders used cards or chips activated by remote control to show wrong measures. Such chips were being used in fuel stations fitted with both digital and manual systems. The wrongdoers were let off with minor punishments due to the absence of relevant laws, officials said.
The Kathmandu Post