If you don’t like the price you’ve been seeing for gas in Iowa, at least you can rest assured it’s accurate. Director Ron Rowland with the state agriculture department’s regulatory division says the state government doesn’t tell retailers what to charge — but is very strict in regulating how they show their prices. The price on the visible public display must accurately reflect what the pump says, and Rowland says if they’re going change anything, first they have to change the display sign, even before they change the price on the pumps. There may not be a big outdoor sign, as he says it isn’t required. It’s a competitive issue, as the station operators figure someone driving down the street who sees a sign with prices and another gas station with no sign is likely to choose the place that tells what its price will be. The regulatory division annually checks every gas pump in Iowa, though Rowland says they have nothing to do with the price that’s set. In rural area, stations with older pumps, showing those rolling mechanical dials that rack up the price of your gas, were not designed to charge more than $2.99 a gallon. Rowland says they’re not required up upgrade to new digital pumps. Not as long as they’re accurate, he says, and will remain accurate…which is why they’re regularly inspected. If they don’t have an adjustable digital display, the state has legislation in place that will let them charge by the half-gallon, though the dealer must put up signs clearly saying they’re doing that.
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