Hunkering down at the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) satellite office on Meserole Avenue in Greenpoint, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz participated in an inspection to announce stricter regulation of the meters on heating oil delivery trucks.
The mayor was given a firsthand look at the inspection process of a heating oil delivery truck while he toured the DCA’s Greenpoint facility. Though he had little idea what all the dials, pumps, and other bits of machinery did, the mayor recognized their importance in maintaining the honesty of the heating oil industry and protecting the people of New York from scammers, shammers, and flim-flammers.
The more than 1,000 heating oil delivery trucks are inspected annually by the Greenpoint center to ensure that the meters are measuring the oil correctly and giving customers everything they are paying for.
Meters can easily fall out of alignment and shortchange customers, and they can also accurately measure air bubbles instead of oil. The new, stricter inspection checks the accuracy of the meters by emptying a truck’s oil into a tank, measuring it and comparing the amount to what the meter indicates.
A second test, known as a product depletion test, checks the amount of air that goes through the pipes. The DCA instituted stricter passing grades for these tests, and any truck that fails an inspection is taken off the road until it is made accurate.
“Winter has arrived, and as the mercury falls, New Yorkers will be stressing their budgets,” said Bloomberg. “In a day and age where people have no extra money, these regulations will be a good way for New Yorkers to save money without expending any extra city resources. We may not have control of the prices of oil, but we can make sure that people are getting what they pay for.”
“New Yorkers are protected by the strictest consumer affairs laws in the nation for fuel truck inspections,” said Minz. “It sends a message to the industry that distribution companies must get it right and that trucks have to pass muster.”
The commissioner admitted that there was not a lot of fraud among oil delivery services, but that the meters can easily become unreliable. When errors are found, they are usually weighing the measurements in the oil company’s favor, but Minz explained that when errors were found in the customers’ favor, “the oil companies are thankful.”
The mayor, who uses oil to heat his own home, offered several tips as to how to save even more money when buying heating oil.
“When signing a contract with a supplier, check for hidden fees, look for the DCA seal, and keep your receipt,” he said.
He also explained that he has been keeping his apartment a few degrees cooler in the winter and few degrees warmer in the summer to save on his oil and electric bills.