KPRC 2 Investigates: Gas stations sticking drivers with bad gasoline and big repair bills

HOUSTON – If you fill up your car with contaminated gas it can cause major, costly problems. If you can prove the issues are a result of the bad fuel, the gas station owner who sold it to you should pay for your repairs. The KPRC 2 Investigative team is on the case of a Houston businessman who’s sticking it to his customers by dodging the bills and their calls for help.

Bad gas causes problems for drivers

If you fill up with contaminated gas, you will know it almost immediately.

“I had not gotten maybe a thousand feet,” said Hahleemah Wright. “And it just completely stopped. I tried to turn it on again. It wouldn’t turn on.”

When Hahleemah Wright had her 2015 BMW towed to a mechanic, he drained the gas tank. They found gas mixed with water. The dirty mix damaged her car and cost her $1,329 and change to repair.

“To be hit with a $1400 bill in the blink of an eye at no fault of myself is a huge inconvenience and is unjustified,” said Hahleemah.

Hahleemah went back to the Valero at 4303 Old Spanish Trail right away to hopefully prevent other drivers from filling up with the same problematic premium fuel. But employees here didn’t make that easy. On the Next-door App, other drivers shared the same stories. They showed pictures of bad gas from the Valero station and sky-high repair bills.

Is the gas station owner responsible for bad gas?

Employees at the Old Spanish Trail Valero station gave customers the run around for weeks before finally giving them a phone number to who they said was the owner- Mohamed Albataineh, or “Mo” for short. “Mo,” told customers by phone to send their repair bills so he could reimburse them. But after two customers emailed their bills, they say Mo ghosted them.

KPRC 2 Investigator Amy Davis stopped by the gas station to get some answers. We also went by his home in Champions Forest. Nothing. Drivers reported the station to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and the Harris County Attorney’s office.

“We sent one of our investigators out to the facility with an investigator from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation last week, and they’ve been able to take tests of the fuel located at that facility,” Christian Menefee, Harris County Attorney.

The results of those tests are still pending but instead of pushing Mo to do the right thing the complaints to the State seemed to push his buttons. One of the drivers recorded a call when she got Mo to answer his phone just this week.

“I have no idea. You need to call the state. You call the state. They came and investigate my station and they gave me,” said Mohamed Albataineh/ Gas Station Owner. “Now you can talk to them. They can solve your problem.”

Driver: “You told me...”

Mohamed: “Yeah. I did tell told you. I didn’t know you called the state to investigate my station.”

The State can find the station anywhere from $500 to $3,000 and they can revoke the station’s license. We will let you know what happens in this case.

What should you do if you get bad gas?

If you ever fill your tank with contaminated fuel call TDLR immediately. In Harris County, you can also report it to the County Attorney’s office. Save your receipt every time you fill up your gas tank just in case. But even when you do that there are no guarantees people will do the right thing.

TDLR COMPLAINTS

HARRIS COUNTY ATTORNEY


About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.