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Royal Farms free air update

If you go to a Royal Farms in Baltimore city looking to put air in your tires free of charge but do not see an air pump, the company wants you to know it has not picked up its ball and gone home in the wake of a class-action lawsuit filed last month.

Some background: I wrote about the lawsuit, which accused Royal Farms of violating a little-known Baltimore law requiring gas stations to have at least one air pump free of charge for consumers. A Royal Farms spokesman later told me the chain has been rolling out free air at its gas stations since April, well before the lawsuit was filed.

Tuesday morning, a reader commenting on the blog post said Royal Farms “pulled the air from their stores.” I emailed the reader for more information. He told me he went to the Royal Farms on Russell Street on Monday, a week after getting free air, only to find the air pump was now missing. A clerk told him the machine had been removed “because of all the lawsuits.”

Ed Stronski, marketing manager for Royal Farms, confirmed Tuesday the air pump had been removed from the Russell Street gas station a day earlier but said it was not because of the litigation. The company is installing new, “easy to use” air pumps at all its gas stations that automatically shut off once the desired tire pressure is reached, Stronski said. But another company owns the old pumps, which must be removed before the new ones can be installed.

A new air pump was scheduled to be installed Tuesday afternoon at the Russell Street gas station, he said.

Royal Farms hopes to have free air at not just its 16 Baltimore gas stations but at all 125 of its gas stations in the Mid-Atlantic by the end of the year.