By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The Circle K at 11000 RM 2222 near River Place Boulevard had the wrong fuel in its diesel tank last week, according to a local driver whose car now needs more than $20,000 worth of repairs.
“I filled up on Tuesday (May 17) because I was 6 miles to empty. I filled the whole tank of the stuff,” said the Steiner Ranch resident who does not want to be identified.
Now she has to replace the entire fuel system in her BMW because she pumped unleaded gasoline into her vehicle that is supposed to only take diesel at the Four Points Circle K because the station had the wrong fuel in its diesel tank.
Several days later, a corporate official at Circle K told the victim that the “delivery company made an error.”
After fueling on Tuesday, the Steiner Ranch victim said that she “drove a 100 miles and idled a lot too. (My car) would start and then not start… I kept driving and going about my business,” she said, noticing her vehicle was not driving like usual but not knowing what was wrong.
After taking it in and having it diagnosed, her service advisor at BMW shared that unleaded fuel was in her tank and that the repair estimates for the fuel system replacement are between $20,000 and $21,000.
She knew she didn’t make a mistake at the pumps because in her car, an unleaded nozzle does not fit into her diesel tank. After she found out the diagnosis, she pinpointed when and where she got the wrong fuel and went by to share what she learned.
On Thursday, May 19 she went to the local Circle K and noticed “out of service” things on all of their diesel pumps except for the one she used.
She spotted a lady using the same diesel pump she had pumped from two days earlier and she told the stranger, “Stop putting fuel in, the wrong fuel is in the tank.”
Additionally the clerk at the local Circle K told her on Thursday evening, “we have unleaded in the diesel tanks and it fried two cars today.”
The victim got ahold of the assistant manager at the local Circle K who told her that she contacted the manager and that the manager and the district manager were conducting an investigation.
On Friday, the Steiner Ranch victim and her husband went to the store. While they were waiting to share their situation, they happen to see a note on the desk that had her name on it and her phone number along with another partial phone number. After their meeting at the local Circle K, both husband and wife pulled out their cell phones and tried to call the partial number they saw, neither knew the other one was trying to do the same thing.
The wife got through and asked the person on the other end of the line if “they had gotten bad gas at that station too.”
The lady on the line realized it was the same woman who tried to warn her the night before while she was pumping gas. She said she put six gallons in, left the station to take her daughter to dance lessons in River Place and then her car would not start. She said her daughter told her later, “That lady wasn’t so crazy after all.”
By Friday afternoon the Steiner Ranch couple got an email from Circle K’s Bret Friedrich who was assigned to handle their recent “bad fuel” claim.
“First I would like to apologize for the trouble and inconvenience you have experienced. We have investigated the claim and found that our delivery company made an error in their delivery the morning of May 19th,” Friedrich stated in the email.
Friedrich went on to say he hopes to “get you taken care of as quickly as possible.” He asked if they had taken the car to a mechanic, and asked for an estimate of the repairs and for any bills they may have incurred. He indicated that Circle K would reimburse them for the costs and mail a check to them.
Later that day, the Steiner Ranch victim found out another person who had filled up at the Circle K on Thursday and posed on a Steiner Ranch social media page on Friday that she was having difficulty with her car and seeking advice. She reached out to her to share her experience and found their cases were similar.
“I’m really most concerned about the high possibility that several other people were affected by this and might not be aware that problems with their car were a result of receiving the wrong fuel type for their car,” she said.
Circle K seems to be cooperating and taking fault at this point, the local victim said. She and her husband have been the ones to call the corporate offices first, “We had to call corporate, we had to be on top of it,” she said. By Monday late afternoon, they had not heard back from them.
The estimate to replace entire fuel system is around $21,000 but there are more costs than that, she said.
“We know for a fact that the entire fuel system has to be replaced because it is protocol at BMW to,” she said. She has also had loss of use of the vehicle, and says there is diminished value of the vehicle because of this situation. But the Circle K official they spoke with on Friday disagreed that the value of the vehicle would be diminished.
She said that sharing her story is more of a public service announcement than anything else. If customers thought they were getting diesel fuel from, what she estimates, Monday through Thursday evening, then she urges them to call the station as soon as possible.
By presstime on Tuesday morning, Circle K Stores Inc. had not returned phone call messages or emails seeking comments about the situation and getting clarification on the dates that the wrong fuel was in the diesel tank.