Sam’s Club is under fire for selling water-contaminated fuel


We love taking advantage of the savings offered at warehouse clubs like Costco Wholesale or Sam’s Club, especially those of us who like to buy in bulk. Although warehouse clubs require a membership to shop, the annual fee (around $40-50 on average) usually doesn’t break the bank. Some financial experts debate the reality economic benefit to shop at these retailers, which typically have lower prices than grocery stores but also tend to tempt you with impulse purchases, according to AARP. But while the merits can be debated, Sam’s Club found itself in the news for selling a product that turned out to be contaminated. Read on to find out why the retailer was in hot water.

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In April, Sam’s Club announced that it would be updating its in-house brand, Member’s Mark, with the aim of being more aware of the environment. Over the next 18 months, customers will see a new logo for Member’s Mark products, which will now feature a “subtle checkmark”. In an effort to become a regenerative brand, much like its parent company Walmart, Sam’s Club is also removing certain ingredients from Member’s Mark food and consumable products, including high fructose corn syrup and aspartame. As the company makes strides in keeping the customer in mind, a Sam’s Club warehouse in Minnesota recently made headlines for selling a contaminated product, but that might not be what you think.

car filling up with gasoline at the pump
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One of the biggest benefits of belonging to a warehouse club is the ability to fill up your gas tank, as those prices are always cheaper than at your local gas station. According to Consumer Reports, if you are a member, you can save anywhere from 5 to 25 cents per gallon.

However, some buyers in Minnesota have encountered problems when they get gasoline at a Sam’s Club Fuel Center in Hermantown, as reported by the Duluth Newsstand. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the station’s underground fuel tank had been infiltrated by water, which can damage car engines and fuel injectors. A customer interviewed by the Newsstand said his car stalled after getting gas at Sam’s Club, landing him a $3,000 repair bill.

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sam club logo on gas station roof
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Customer complaints prompted the Minnesota Department of Commerce to inspect the site, the Newsstand reported.

“We found over half an inch of water in the tank, and the inspector could also see from the sample he took that it was cloudy,” Greg Vanderplaatsdirector of the Department of Commerce’s Weights and Measures Division, told the outlet, also noting that to detect contamination, a water-sensing paste is used.

The pumps were already out of order and “out of sale” when the inspector visited the site, Vanderplaats said. But when a fuel sample was taken and sent for testing, experts confirmed it had been contaminated with water.

“They said they found where the water was coming from, made repairs and brought in new products,” Vanderplaats told the Newsstand. And when inspectors returned on Tuesday May 3 to reassess the situation and take another sample, no water was found and the station was given the green light to resume operations.

man with a broken down car on the side of the road
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According to, get water contaminated fuel is not so rare. This often happens when gas station storage tanks become contaminated with seepage or condensation.

If this happens to you, your vehicle may be experiencing serious performance issues. Your car may not run smoothly, stall while you drive, or refuse to start at all. Having water in your tank can also cause your fuel system to corrode, causing system failure and a costly mechanic bill.

To avoid this, skip old service stations and those located in areas where there has been flooding or where flooding may occur in the future, recommends Scanner Answers.

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