Read Gas Price Signs Closely

cash credi signRead the price signs closely when you get your next fill-up or you could get hit with a ridiculous surcharge, as one Teaneck driver recently discovered. He stopped at a Sunoco station in Bergenfield and glanced at the $2.69 atop the big sign near the station entrance – traditionally the price for regular. “Fill ‘er up,” he told the attendant. “Charge it.” As the gas started flowing and the meter began clicking, the driver noticed the double sign attached to the pump: “Cash, $2.69; Credit $3.18.” “What” he said, jumping out of his car. “Stop the pump! Is that right?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” the attendant said. “Why the difference?” he asked. “Ask the owner,” he was told.

The owner wasn’t there then or when I visited a couple days later. But the attendant explained why it cost 49 cents a gallon more for a credit card purchase: “My boss doesn’t want credit cards,” he said.

The attendant then asked if I planned to file a complaint.

“No,” I said. “There doesn’t seem to be anything illegal here.”

The only signs required by law are the ones on top of the pumps, and they had the cash/credit prices for each grade listed. The big road sign also had the two prices for regular and diesel (also a 49 cents difference), but a billboard-type sign at the curb listed cash prices only.

Except in times of emergency, gas stations are free to charge whatever they want as long as their signage is not deceptive. You could make a case that the billboard sign was deceptive, but with the other two signs clearly stating the cash/credit distinction, the station seemed to adhere to the law.

The problem is we are conditioned to look at the top number on the big sign and base our purchase on that, without looking closely at the whole sign.

Obviously, as this driver discovered, you could get burned.

Charging more if the customer uses plastic makes sense because the station takes a hit of 2 percent to 3 percent on charge transactions, so a spread of 5 cents to 10 cents per gallon is justified.

But 49 cents is absurd. Kevin Demarrais, Northjersey.

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  1. its not against the law but it is against the merchant account agreement for the cc company, if you file a complaint with the cc ie.. visa mc etc.. they can revoke their being able to accept cc’s

  2. To Ari: It is not against the merchant account agreement from the credit card company. They are not charging you more to use credit cards, they are giving you a discount if you pay with cash. There is nothing illegal in giving discounts for cash paying customers. On a side note: the credit card minimums that stores have is illegal, and for that you can file a complaint.

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