Back to top

Tips for buying gas and heating oil

Last updated: 7/16/16

Tips for buying gas and heating oil

The Weights and Measures Division makes sure consumers are paying the right prices for fuel. Here's what you should look out for when buying gas and oil.

Still have questions? Contact:
Inspectional Services
1010 Massachusetts Avenue
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
United States

When buying gas

We check gas station pumps, pricing, and storage tanks. If we find a violation, we'll charge a fine and make the gas station fix the problem. Here's what you can do to make sure you're paying the right price:

  • Make sure the octane rating per gallon or liter is visible on each pump.
  • The pump must be set to zero before you start pumping.
  • Check the price by multiplying the gallons by the unit price. It should match the price exactly.
  • Some gas stations will market their least expensive gas as “economy.” Most consumers will just order “regular” and end up paying more for gas. Check for economy gas first.
  • The price you pay must match the posted price. If the posted price is lower than what you see at the pump, the gas station is violating the law.
  • Check for leaks or broken pieces on the pump and hose. Gas stations must fix them right away.
  • Try not to buy gas when you see a gas truck at the station. When they deposit gas, it stirs up sediment in the tanks. This sediment can get into your gas tank and clog your filter.

Buying home heating oil

We check heating oil trucks and meters each year. Our goal is to prevent heating oil companies from overcharging customers. The heating oil company must give you a written delivery ticket when they deliver your oil. The ticket must include the:

  • serial number and date
  • name and address of the company
  • your name and address
  • amount of oil they delivered
  • sales sequence number
  • price per gallon, and
  • identity of the person who delivered the oil — either a name, initials, or an employee number.

If you don't get a ticket, or the ticket is missing information, contact us right away. You can call us at 617-635-5300.

Oil truck inspections

We inspect all oil trucks garaged in Boston. We make sure the meter is accurate by pumping 200 gallons of oil through our testing “prover.” If we approve the truck, we'll seal the meter and make it tamper-proof.

DELIVERY INSPECTIONS

We also do random inspections during oil deliveries. We'll check to make sure the tamper-proof seals are still intact. We'll also check the delivery ticket to make sure all the correct information is there. If we find a violation, we may give the company a warning or charge a fine.