Greg Zoeller told WBEZ on Wednesday that his office wants to make sure that consumer rights are protected as BP begins to recall a 50,000-barrel batch of bad gasoline. The tainted fuel made its way last week to gas stations throughout Northwest Indiana, parts of Chicago and even as far away as Milwaukee.
“We are closely monitoring the response by BP and will be reviewing their claims and reimbursement processes,” Zoeller said. “As the watchdog for Indiana consumers, my office has a duty to ensure consumers' rights are protected and that there is no undue delay in appropriate reimbursements.”
BP spokesman Scott Dean told WBEZ that the 2.1 million gallons of regular-grade unleaded gasoline was produced at its refinery in Whiting, Indiana, right off Lake Michigan, about a mile from Chicago’s southern border last week.
BP estimates about 200 retail outlets in Northwest Indiana and in the Chicago metro region were sent the gasoline in the last seven days, along with 20 additional retail sites in the Milwaukee area.
Dean explained the tainted gas was caused by large molecules not burning off properly, thus plugging up fuel injectors and causing “hard starts” for vehicles.
The company began receiving complaints about the bad gas on Monday, which has forced hundreds of motorists to make unplanned visits to local car repair shops.
Rick Shaver at Toyota of Merrillville says his dealership has been inundated by customers whose cars are filled with the bad gas. The cost to fix cars at the dealership is averaging about $600.
“We are dropping and draining gas tanks, we are doing fuel systems cleanings, changing the oil, putting new gas in it, of course,” Shaver told WBEZ.
Zoeller says so far, BP has handled the situation well by setting up a hotline and a website for customers to file claims.
“We just don’t trust the company. We’ll be watching BP,” Zoeller said.
To file a claim with BP, customers should call 1-800-333-3991 or 1-800-599-9040. Customers can also visit www.bpresponse.com.
To date, 7,000 consumers have contacted BP regarding this matter.
Customers can also contact the Indiana Attorney General’s office to file a separate complaint at (800) 382-5516.