Several months ago, I pulled into the local Valero station. It’s the same thing I’ve been doing for a while now, ever since I moved here. It’s the closest station to me, only a quarter mile away or so. This day was a little different, though. I handed my credit card to the attendant, same as always, ask him to fill it up with regular, and away it goes. I took a few minutes to look around and notice something strange. There are two rows on the gas price sign over the pump. I take a closer look. Son of a bitch… there are two prices now, cash and credit. I vaguely recall gas stations charging extra for credit a long time ago, but that was when I was kid. Gas companies don’t seriously charge more for credit these days, do they?
Apparently they do. After the incident at my local Valero, I began to take a closer look around the area. It seems like every Valero in my part of the state is charging seven cents more per gallon for credit card purchases. What a rip! I don’t have numbers to back it up, but I know that their merchant fees can’t be nearly as much as they’re charging. I, personally, would think that it’s well worth the fee not to have to deal with cash; it’s a much quicker transaction. It would be one thing if they discounted the cash price, but it’s the same as all the other local stations.
I have, therefore, put Valero on my shit list. I refuse to buy my gas there given the number of competitors in the area who don’t charge the credit card premium. For a while, I thought this was going to be the only one. That is, until yesterday.
I was south of a quarter tank and heading home from a shopping expedition. I came across a Gulf station on US 130 North and stopped for fuel. I handed my card to the attendant, same as always, and after he’d already ran it and started pumping did I notice that they too were charging a seven cent premium for credit. What the fuck?! So, yet another gas company on my shit list.
So, the moral of the story? Pay attention at the pump. In these days of close-to-three dollar gas it’s easy for them to try and squeeze even more out of the consumer. Be weary, and make sure you’re paying what you think you are. I’m going to complain to the companies involved for what little good I think it’ll do. Perhaps if consumers en masse started boycotting these stations, they’d get the hint. For now, however, it’s just my little protest.