04 May, 2009


Weights & Measures. Why is there no government officer in Anguilla charged with checking annually the weights and measures used by merchants on this island? I know that the Weights and Measures Act says that there should be Inspectors of Weights and Measures who are supposed annually to go around and check on these matters. There is one, and sometimes several, in each other island of the West Indies. We must be the only one where the consumer is so blatantly exposed to short changing and overcharging.

I challenge anyone in government to show that any inspector has actually been appointed and trained to perform the statutory duties. The Act says that the inspector is an officer in the Accountant-General’s office. I emailed our Accountant-General and asked her if any had ever been appointed in Anguilla to her knowledge. As the Deputy-Governor is in charge of public service appointments, I asked him as well. Needless to say, neither has responded to my enquiry.

Take one of those little red one-gallon gasoline canisters sold at all the hardware stores in Anguilla. They are made in the USA, and I would expect they measure 1 US gallon. They state they can hold 1 gallon, 4 fluid ounces. One gallon would be up to the “safe” full mark. The extra four ounces, I expect, would be if you fill it up to overflowing.

One US gallon is 128 US fluid ounces. One Imperial gallon is 153.7 US fluid ounces. The gas stations of Anguilla are obliged by the Weights and Measures Act to sell gasoline by the Imperial gallon. If they are doing so, and if you fill one of those little made-in-the-USA red canisters, you should get considerably less, nearly 20% less, than one Imperial gallon in it.

One of my correspondents conducted a little experiment. He went to three of the seven gas stations on the island. He filled his canister, paid for it, and emptied the contents into his car. He went to the next gas station and repeated the process. Each time he filled up the canister he checked the amount of gasoline alleged to have been sold to him. It should have been approximately .8 to .9 of a gallon in each case. He made a note of how much gasoline the machine said he purchased. He tells me that he found that each of the three gasoline dispensers stated that he had bought more than one gallon. One stated that he had purchased as much as 1.4 gallons, another 1.2 gallons. Needless to say, that is what he was charged for. None of the three gas stations recorded or charged for the correct volume dispensed.

It is conceivable that some of the gas stations on Anguilla have begun to use the US gallon instead of the Imperial gallon. But, that is unlikely for two reasons. One, it is against the law. Two, these things are standardized. In any event, why would one gasoline dispenser state that he had purchased 1.4 gallons, while another stated 1.2 gallons?

The results are sufficient to indicate to me that there are no standard measurements enforced in the sale of gasoline in Anguilla. That is what the Inspector of Weights and Measures is supposed to be checking on for our protection.

In the case of the gas station falsely claiming payment for 1.4 gallons for filling the gas canister, in particular, the proprietor should be prosecuted and his licence taken away from him. But, we need to have a properly trained inspector appointed first.

With our complete indifference in Anguilla to the need to hold to proper standards, and our cow-boy attitude to the sale of goods and services generally, in my opinion the Anguillian consumer must be one of the most exploited in the West Indies.

Related links: Sale of goods


  1. By my figures, which I think are correct, customers of the worst of the three stations has been charging us $16.80 ofr $10 worth of fuel!

  2. Everyone's been complaining about the cost of gas. A lot of people have been blaming to government for permitting us to be ripped off. I said no, this is a worldwide problem that's got nothing to do with our government.

    I am sad to have to admit that the others were right. They had the wrong reason for why we were being ripped off, but they were right.

  3. You know that no one is ever prosecuted for consumer fraud in Anguilla and no one ever has their license taken away. But we the people can do what government can't be bothered with. Tell us who's been grossly overcharging us, so we can all buy our gas somewhere else. With no customers, how long can this operator keep his station open?

    Mr. Mitchell, you have tried to put this problem in the hands of government. But it's really in YOUR hands.

  4. The problem with naming the gas station in question is that I have no evidence other than the word of my correspondent. I have not gone out and checked myself. More importantly, I have not taken photographs, brought independent and credible witnesses with me to confirm the accuracy of the observations, measurements and photographs. The result is that I would be unable to defend a libel action, no matter how truthful my details were. I'm not going through that, thank you.

  5. Another thing - elsewhere in the world, the petrol stations advertise the price they sell the stuff at in nice big numbers by the side of the road. In Anguilla you never know what you're gonna pay unless you drive up to the pump. If Albert sells cheaper than Delta or vice versa, why don't they broadcast the fact and try and get more business?

  6. That isn't usually done here. Ashley advertises the price of a few items in The Anguillian and that's about the extent of it.

    My impression is that people who do such things are considered "fast." It's the same reason Anguillians looking for a ride along the road are often unwilling to put their thumbs out. It's considered rude and pushy.

    Don't worry, all this traditional stuff is dying out as we speak and Anguilla will soon be just another place full of gas stations and dolphin circuses.

  7. Don, a few weeks ago you extolled the frontier atmosphere of Anguilla, lack of excessive government regulations and the necessary self-reliance that comes with it.

    Which do you want? Do we really want inspectors "protecting us?" It won't stop at gas. It wouldn't take long to be as over-regulated as Canada, France or Australia.

    Get a British gallon container, bring witnesses to a gas stations (including the press) and buy a gallon. Document the difference with the press as witnesses, too. Suggest others do the same for their own beef (hey, especially beef!). ;-)

    Ever reading and willing to play Devil's Advocate,

  8. perhaps the Anguilla Lottery Commissioner, who regulates the lottery, could help us with this.

  9. Don,your posting is so correct.In Axa we really need to get some control of what is going on,it is shameful that this is being allowed to continue.I was home last summer and when to pick up some meat for my parents and the person supplying just gave me a bag and said that is was 10lbs.There was and is no way I could verify I just had to take his word ,hey he ad the machete also who knows if his weights were weighted .The same is with the gas,we do have a problem that urgently needs fixing.

  10. No, I disagree. If we want government to protect us for every little possible area of being defrauded, if we refuse to protect ourselves by organizing into consumer protection groups, get ready to pay taxes. You can't have your socialist cake and eat it, too.

  11. Using a 5 gallon tank instead of a 1 gallon tank would reduce the chances of measurement error or bad initial state. If the previous customer went to extra work to drain the hose after filling you could easily pay for an extra 0.4 gallons when you filled up. But this would be the previous customer stealing from you, not the station.
    Could also fill 2 containers and ignore the first one.

  12. I really question the post expressing fear of "over-regulation". Is it "over-regulation" to enforce the laws? If government refuses to enforce the laws (thereby abdicating its responsibility to its citizens), is it really the obligation of the citizenry to police itself? To my mind, if this were to be the case, anarchy would very soon reign. If there is a law establishing a weights and measurement standard and a requirement for an inspector, it should be enforced to protect the public. Otherwise, we must all carry our scales with us and make sure that each one is calibrated so that all scales in every house on the island are exactly the same!! That really makes a lot of sense....

  13. I have measured the amount of gallons registered as being poured into the same one gallon container, to the same level, at four different gas stations in Anguilla. This is what they charged me for in each case:

    1 - 1.48 gals
    2 - 1.23 gals
    3 - 1.219 gals
    4 - 1.314 gals

  14. Unless the person who made the above measurements knows that the previous user didn't drain the hose after turning off the pump, these figures may not be accurate.

    Unless we know if we're talking about US or imperial gallons, this information is almost useless.

    Unless we know who is ripping is off, this information is just unusable.

  15. This is a disgraceful situation. The police should be checking all gas stations to ensure that they are not stealing from us. I thought stealing was prosecutable.
    One imperial gallon sold should equal one imperial gallon bought.
    Wake up RAPF and do your own investigation into these allegations.

  16. Does anyone know if this fraud to the Anguillian people by our gas stations is being investigated by any official body such as Governor,Our government, etc ? If not, as they have been made aware of possible fraud on a massive scale to all vehicle owners on Anguilla including the biggest vehicle owner, the government. Can they be sued on behalf of the Anguillian people for ignoring a possible massive fraud.


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