BOISE -- Jacksons Food Stores has confirmed three more gas stations had a mix of diesel and gasoline in its unleaded tanks. Initially on Monday, the company's CEO said he believed the issue was isolated to one Meridian station at Fairview and Locust Grove.
After a mechanic called KTVB and shared his concerns Monday night, and the CEO responded, viewers began emailing KTVB claiming they had car issues after visiting other Jacksons stores in Boise and Nampa. KTVB provided the list of locations to Jacksons, and on Tuesday afternoon, the company sent a list of a total of four impacted stations, all serviced by the same fuel delivery truck.
The impacted stations confirmed by Jacksons Vice President of Operations are: 2728 Orchard Street in Boise (right off Interstate-84), 612 Northside Boulevard in Nampa (right off Interstate-84), 4315 Garrity Boulevard in Nampa (off Interstate 84), and 1950 East Fairview Ave in Meridian (at Locust Grove).
State inspector visited Meridian gas station on Tuesday
After seeing the report on Monday night, the Idaho Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Weights and Measures made a visit to the Jacksons on Fairview and Locust Grove on Tuesday. The section manager wanted to make sure the CEO's promise of flushing the tank was accurate.
"First thing this morning, I sent an inspector over to that particular location and we wanted to make sure that the fuel that was replenished, that the quality of that fuel was acceptable," said Kevin Merritt, Bureau of Weights and Measures Section Manager. "Results were fine. It had good results."
KTVB wondered why this type of issue wasn't caught before an unknown amount of consumers were impacted. One reason is fuel doesn't have to be regularly tested. Merritt explains there there is no quality testing program, or lab, funded in Idaho. Such programs, he says, do exist in Oregon, Washington, Utah and Nevada.
"The inspectors in those states will pull a sample from every gas station and send it in, whether they suspect there is a problem or not," Merritt said.
No formal complaints in Jacksons fuel case
Weights and Measures regularly tests fuel pumps for quantity issues, like making sure when consumers pay for a gallon, the pumps actually pump a full gallon. At that time, the portable device used in this situation can also be used to check gasoline. If there are potential issues, a sample can be sent to an out of state lab, though Merritt says it is very expensive.
In Idaho, Merritt says fuel quality is only specifically analyzed if there is a complaint filed, and no complaints were made in this case. Merritt says they decided to test when they learned of an issue through Monday's news story.
State code allows the Bureau of Weights and Measures to impose penalities if quality issues are found, such as diesel, water or improper additives being in fuel. In this particular case, at the store tested, the Bureau is satisfied with quality and has no plans to take any further action.
"It looks like the owners of that station have taken it upon themselves to correct this issue, and our tests this morning confirmed that. And we're happy with those results," Merritt said.
Because the tank was tested and confirmed clean now, Merritt says there is no real way to confirm what originally happened, other than to find out through Jacksons. He did indicate the reason given by the company about a fuel delivery mistake sounds like a practical explanation.
Only 1 legitimate fuel quality complaint in Idaho in 2013
In 2013, Weights and Measures investigated 83 complaints from things ranging from people being shorted at the meat counter of a butcher shop to grocery store shelf prices not matching the register to fuel concerns. Of the 83, only one was a legitimate fuel quality complaint.
Merritt says the issue was that ethanol-blended gasoline ended up in a non-ethanol tank. He says like in this case, the distributor paid the cost of any associated issues.
He says it's been six or seven years since the bureau has dealt with a similar issue with diesel and gasoline, and that time it was an issue with refining.
Because only filed complaints are investigated, however, it is impossible to know if there have been more issues or issues that were caught by companies before many, if any, customers were impacted and called the state.
"I'd encourage consumers that think they have a problem or issue with fuel to give us a call and give us a chance to investigate it," Merritt said. "Weights and Measures will investigate every complaint, 100 percent of the complaints are investigated."
The phone number for fuel quality or other Weights and Measures concerns is: 208-323-8690.
Jacksons: 'We can absolutely assure quality fuel'
John's Auto Care Center Manager Clint White initially reported the issues to KTVB after he had three broken-down cars come into his shop with similar fuel-related issues on Monday.
Jacksons' CEO told KTVB Monday that the company usually uses its own drivers, and at the time, couldn't say who made the impacted delivery. White says Jacksons informed him an outside vendor made the impacted deliveries.
When asked if all stations that truck delivered to had been tested and corrected if necessary, the VP replied: "Yes, we've tested all the stations. Yes, we can absolutely assure quality fuel to our customers."
Mechanic: Jacksons has paid repair bills
White says he has been paid for the first three cars he fixed. He says the company has agreed to pay bills on other cars he's taken in for repairs since Monday's story. White says his dealings with Jacksons have been the "most positive experience in an experience like this".
Other viewers who have reported problems and high repair bills say Jacksons has also responded to their complaints with agreements to cover the costs of problems associated with the bad gasoline.
The company sent the following statement to KTVB on Tuesday:
"Over the past few days, Jacksons Food Stores was made aware that pumps at four of our Treasure Valley locations mistakenly had a mix of high-quality unleaded fuel and diesel, resulting in mechanical problems for several customers. Jacksons took immediate steps to diagnose and to attempt to remediate the issue. In an abundance of caution, we are now in the process of removing all the affected fuel from those locations.
Our investigation surfaced several instances of human errors that led to the issue, and we are changing our policy and procedures to help ensure this doesn't happen again. We take concerns about the quality of our fuel very seriously. We are committed to taking care of any and all customers impacted.
Of more than 70 locations in the Treasure Valley, we believe the issue is isolated to only four locations. Customers that have purchased fuel at these stores during these times and experienced issues with their vehicle are asked to contact Jacksons Corporate Office at 208-888-6061.
- 612 Northside Blvd, Nampa (Friday morning)
- 2728 Orchard St, Boise (Sunday morning)
- 4315 Garrity Blvd, Nampa (Sunday morning)
- 1950 E Fairview, Meridian (Sunday morning)"