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Old gas pump stickers could cost you

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

You've probably noticed the little sticker on the side of the pump as you're filling your tank. They're shaped like the state of Alabama and they have a little date punched out of them.

After a quick glance and the filling of your tank, you probably drive off not even thinking about the significance of the sticker. If they're the wrong color, though, they could be costing you money. 

Blue, green and brown: They're an important color code to help you determine which gas stations have expired or up-to-date inspection stickers.

"I don't even know what's involved, so I guess we need to be more educated about that," Montgomery resident Andrea Williams admitted.

Blue stands for inspection year 2010.

Green indicates an inspection in 2011.

Brown means the pump has been inspected in 2012.

If you're seeing blue, you need to beware. You may pump $20 worth of gas, according to the machine, but actually get less if the machine isn't properly inspected to determine if it's functioning correctly.

"I don't know if I'm getting what I pay for," Montgomery resident Larry Reid asked.

So who's to blame? The Alabama Agriculture & Industries Department says it's not the gas station owners who are at fault, but the state.

"You're going to see those outdated stickers. It's unfortunate, but it's the reality of the state being broke," Alabama Agriculture & Industries Department Deputy Commissioner Brett Hall explained. 

In a statement, Alabama Agriculture & Industries Department Measurements & Weights Division Acting Director Stacey Boshell says legislative cutbacks have reduced inspectors from 23 to only five. Those five inspectors serve the entire state.

Collectively, the deputy commissioner says the Ag & Industries Department has seen a fourth of it's staff cut.  

Think your job is demanding, try inspecting an estimated 90,000 gas pumps annually, and you'll know what these inspectors are up against. Boshell says those inspectors "might" test 5 to 10 percent of those pumps.

Gas station managers at Entec say they cannot wait on the state. They've hired their own inspectors to make sure they're providing quality gas for their customers.

"We've always had our in-house people. We've never been dependent on them to do something that they supposedly do annually," Entec General Manager Jim White said.

"We are looking for solutions to rebuild that capability," Hall said.

Drivers are encouraged to look for the current color before pumping to ensure they're getting what they're pay for.

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