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Service stations can charge for air, water

I work at a local gas station/convenience store in the Medford area. Some of our customers occasionally need to put air in their tires. Some locations offer free compressed air and some charge a nominal fee for use of their air machines. Our location charges for air and water. That said, I occasionally  have customers who insist it is illegal for our establishment to charge for air and water. Apparently there is a state law that requires gas stations to supply the public with such services such as air and water. Is this an actual law, and if so, is it illegal for businesses to charge for those services?

— D.E., Medford

D.E., if such a law exits, officials with the Oregon Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Fuels Association aren’t aware of it.

Even our Google searches didn’t turn up any such law. However, we did find that California and Connecticut have laws against service stations charging customers for compressed air and water.

In California, Assembly Bill 531 requires service stations “to provide, during operating hours, water, compressed air and a gauge for measuring air pressure, to the public for use in servicing any passenger or commercial vehicle.” The law goes on to state that “these air and water services be made available at no cost to customers who purchase motor vehicle fuel.”

D.E., our guess is that some of your California customers are confusing their laws for ours.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.