Reporting Bob Roberts
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Another torrent of complaints are expected to cascade into the petroleum giant BP – in the wake of a bad batch of gas that was sold in at least four states.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, BP spokesman Scott Dean said Tuesday that Northwest Indiana continues to be the “epicenter” of the problem. BP initially said the product in question is regular unleaded gasoline that came from the Whiting facility between Monday, Aug. 13 and Friday, Aug. 17.
The gasoline has caused cars to sputter and stall, with motorists have to spend hundreds of dollars to have their fuel systems repaired.
Drivers in four states now are reporting problems with gasoline supplied by BP’s refinery in northwest Indiana. More the 2 million gallons of gas with too much polymeric residue was shipped to 200 retail outlets before the problem was discovered. That residue creates a sludge that clogs fuel lines.
In addition, Indiana’s attorney general is now looking into the incident.
“This is just another black eye for them.” said oil analyst Phil Flynn, as this latest episode comes after other refinery issues, including fires in Whiting, and that massive Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf Of Mexico in 2010. Flynn said the impact on gas prices should be limited.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
But Dean later said some tankers filled up for points in Illinois, and said some bad medium- and premium-grade gas was sold briefly Sunday night and Monday in the Milwaukee area. There are also reports that some of the gasoline was sold in Michigan.
Some of the fuel was sold at stations that do not fly the BP flag but are supplied by its trucks, including Thornton and Costco, Dean said.
Wait times were so bad that the petroleum giant has now assigned 90 operators to receiving complaints, but callers to WBBM Newsradio report long wait times.
South Sider Chris Payne said when he finally connected with a BP customer service operator, she took basic information and then told him it would be five to seven business days before someone would get back to him.
“It’s not like I’m rolling in dough to come up to say, ‘Here, fix my car,’” said Payne, who works near O’Hare International Airport and said his attempts to find a rental car failed – in part because the rental fleets had been sidelined by bad gas, as well.
He said he has a “very understanding boss” who has excused him from work so far.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesigner Reports
Dean said BP is blaming a higher-than-normal level of a residue in the fuel, which makes it more difficult to combust. It is telling motorists to save fuel receipts or attempt to obtain a copy of the transaction from a debit or credit card issuers, to establish proof of purchase, and have all repair bills.
“BP stands behind every gallon of gas it sells,” Dean said.
It’s of little consolation to Payne.
“They should have a better contingency plan in place,” he said.
To deal with the complaints, BP now has two toll-free complaint lines, (800) 333-3391 and (800) 599 9040. Claims can be filed online at www.bpresponse.com