Consumers already think they are paying through the nose for what’s coming through the hose.

So, it’s hard to imagine a product-pricing story that would get more people upset — and those people more upset — than the one that has been making headlines in Maine this week.

When hard-pressed motorists read that there are service stations and convenience stores with pumps that are overcharging them for gasoline — an utter necessity of life in a state with few alternatives to cars and trucks for commuting and other business or leisure travel — tempers understandably rise through the roof.

Being told by state officials that there are pumps overcharging them by, in one instance, as much as 61 cents a gallon can be enraging.

True, according to Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, whose department is in charge of inspecting the accuracy of pumps, there’s no evidence that the overcharges are intentional. Indeed, some pumps are off the other way, undercharging their lucky patrons.

But filling up is not part of the Maine State Lottery system, and motorists shouldn’t be forced to play “debit card scratch ticket” when they push a piece of plastic into the slot on a pump.

A major part of the problem is that, unlike most other common products, getting the right amount of gas for your money is, from the consumer’s point of view, entirely a matter of trust. If you buy apples or frozen pizza or aspirin, you can see how much you are getting for the price you pay.

But not gas, which is dispensed from a machine that people have to trust is accurate. Finding out that some pumps (perhaps many of them?) are not correct is a huge blow to the trust we place in both the businesses where we buy gas (and many of us use the same station routinely) as well as to the trust we place in government to protect us from gouging.

Add to that the fact that pump prices always seem to go up quickly when the crude oil price increases, and yet come down much more slowly when the per-barrel price declines, and there’s already considerable ill-feeling about the fairness of the system.

Now that real proof of overpayment exists, it’s going to be hard to restore that trust without a substantial effort by government and by merchants to assure us that the next pump we pull up to isn’t pilfering our pelf by pillaging our petrol.