â€œOperation Spotlightâ€ data strongly indicates shortchanging was deliberate
AUSTIN – Commissioner Staples today announced results of "Operation Spotlight," a major investigation into Petroleum Wholesale, L.P.’s fuel stations.
The company operates under the name Sunmart in Texas and has stations located in several cities across the state. Findings from "Operation Spotlight" have confirmed numerous Sunmart gas stations have cheated Texas consumers by giving them less fuel than they purchased and strongly indicate this could have been a deliberate act by the company.
"At a time when families are struggling to purchase fuel, I am sure all Texans would agree with me that despicable violations such as these are repulsive and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Commissioner Staples said. "Given the strong indication this company has intentionally cheated consumers, I have passed along the results of ‘Operation Spotlight’ to Attorney General Abbott and his office has opened an investigation into the matter."
Commissioner Staples initiated "Operation Spotlight" after becoming aware of some egregious violation patterns that pointed to the possibility of Sunmart intentionally shortchanging Texas drivers.
While the investigation remains ongoing, TDA estimates the company could be fined more than $100,000 as a result of their irresponsible actions.
Besides Texas, Petroleum Wholesale, L.P. operates Sunmart fuel stations in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Commissioner Staples has alerted regulatory officials in these states to inform them of this investigation.
"While this specific operation may have ended, we are far from finished," Commissioner Staples said.
"We are going to shine the light on all violators who are looking to shortchange Texans. I will not stand for companies taking advantage of good citizens and I will work hard to protect all our consumers."
"This investigation is ongoing. TDA inspectors will conduct follow-up inspections on each and every gas pump that was tagged out of order once it is recalibrated.
"We will also conduct re-inspections in the coming weeks on a random sample of the Sunmart stations. If we find continued violations, the penalties could rise much higher.
"This investigation has given us great insight and we will use what we have learned to strengthen the regulatory process. We are raising the bar so there is a strong incentive for ALL gas station owners to be compliant; a goal which I believe is strongly shared by the 95 percent of the retail fuel industry that operates with honest business practices," Commissioner Staples said.