A Phoenix woman is still waiting for Circle K to respond and take responsibility for the costs and damages that she says her family incurred after fueling up their car with water-contaminated gasoline at a local gas station late last month.
State inspectors shut down the turbine feeding the premium and midgrade fuel types at the Circle K station at 850 W. Shell Rd. after they found unacceptable water levels in the gasoline on Dec. 26, according to an inspection report from the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures.
But Janeth Correa, who filled up her 2019 Jeep Compass while traveling south through Nogales with her two children that same day, said her family fell victim to the bad fuel before the mid- and high-octane blends were shut down.
“They didn’t remove the hose to avoid confusions, or put up a cone,” Correa told the NI last Friday afternoon. “On the contrary, they kept selling gasoline.”
It was unclear at what time the premium turbine was shut down, but an inventory report included in the state’s inspection summary showed that the analysis was conducted shortly after 2 p.m. Correa’s gasoline receipt showed she made her purchase 12:14 p.m.
After her vehicle began stalling as soon as she left the gas station, Correa said, she decided to turn return to the Circle K and ask for help inside the store.
After learning that Correa had filled up with the premium blend, she said, a store employee said they had posted signs on each gas pump, warning customers that that particular fuel was out of service.
But Correa said she never saw any sign near the gas pump informing of such problems, and fueled up her tank with the premium fuel anyway, damaging her car and ending her planned family vacation before it started.
“They just told me, ‘I’m sorry, it’s your fault. You’re the one who filled it up,’” Correa recounted, adding that the employees mentioned the same thing had happened to several other customers the previous day. “If I wasn’t the only one, if you already know that there are problems with the gasoline, then why don’t you shut down the pumps? Why don’t you do something?”
According to the state inspection report, the store manager confirmed that a technician had come to the Circle K on Dec. 25 to remove water from the premium tank after several customer complained that their vehicles had stalled shortly after fueling up. The report, presumably written after the analysis done at 2 p.m. on Dec. 26, said that “the premium turbine has been shut down and both the premium and midgrade fuel types are inoperable,” and added that “out of order” signs had been placed on all the affected pumps. But it didn’t specify when those two actions happened.
Local Circle K personnel previously referred questions about the gas problem to the company’s corporate office. However, the NI was unable to reach a representative by press time.
Correa said her insurance company offered to have her vehicle towed to the nearest Jeep dealership, but she was eventually forced to pay $275 out of her own pocket after she had no luck reaching the local dealership.
In all, she said, she paid nearly $800 to have her car towed to Tucson and fixed of the damages caused by the bad gasoline.
“I lost my vacation time, my car was damaged, I wasted my time, I paid for the tow-truck, plus to have my car fixed,” Correa said with frustration. “And then to have them tell me, ‘Sorry that was your fault.’ I was in shock.”
Shortly following the incident, Correa said, she and her family submitted two separate email complaints to the Circle K corporate office, detailing the incident that damaged her car. Another family member also helped her by calling the office several times, but was unable to reach a representative.
As of last Friday afternoon, Correa still had not heard from any Circle K employee regarding her complaints. Asked what she planned to do next, Correa said she was considering her options, including taking legal action.
“It was a terrible situation that they made me go through for their own negligence in not taking the right steps to block off the pumps, plus still making you feel like it’s your own fault,” she said.
Premium and midgrade fuel was still unavailable at the Circle K gas station last Thursday morning, but all fuel types were for sale as of Sunday afternoon.