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Help Me Hank

Help Me Hank: Full serve fiasco

Ahhh the good old days, back in the 50's gas was only 23 cents a gallon! And just four years ago prices were under two dollars a gallon. But now gas is over three bucks and it's continuing to climb.

Alan Minuskin, professor
"I think that's very hard on people."

Law Professor Alan Minuskin is a gas price scout, he knows where to find the best deals.

Alan Minuskin, professor
"If I have time to drive around and look for a good price I will."

And one morning driving around, he found a real bargain. The cheapest gas was $3.09 a gallon. Alan requested the usual: regular.

Alan Minuskin, professor
"I expected to get gas for $3.09 a gallon."

But one look at his receipt and some quick math and Alan saw that he'd been charged 20 cents more per gallon -- $3.29 that's the price of the medium grade.

Alan Minuskin, professor
"I thought he had overcharged me."

But the attendant pointed to the signs. To get the cheapest gas you have to ask for economy he said, "regular" was the middle-priced grade.

Alan Minuskin, professor
"I thought it was deceptive."

Too busy working on his own law cases, Professor Minuskin turned to someone else for help.

Alan Minuskin, Professor
"Hank Phillippi Ryan."

So we took a drive around town, and looks like gas stations use several different types of labeling systems.

Here it's regular, plus, premium. Here it's regular, special, super plus. Here it's regular, plus, supreme. At Alan's gas station: economy, regular, and super. As you can see it's not consistent. So are you getting what you think when you ask for gas?

Hank Phillippi Ryan, Investigative Reporter
"This is Hank Phillippi Ryan at Channel 7 in Boston."

We talked to the Massachusetts Division of Standards, the place that inspects and regulates gas station signs.

Officials told us state law does not define grades of gasoline. A yellow octane rating sticker on the pump is required by federal law. And the gas station must pump what they promise.

So Alan's gas station didn't break the rules, he was charged for exactly what he asked for. Now the professor's case is closed, but he's keeping his eyes open.

Alan Minuskin, professor
"I'm just going to be more vigilant."

(Copyright 2008 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)