How Convenient

The Air/Water machine at the 76 Station on Watt & Fair Oaks
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I think we’ve all figured out by now that more and more gas stations price their product depending on your method of payment.

The two-tiered system is completely legal, however is not an option for many gas station owners. Pumps that have the technology able to track dual-prices cost anywhere between $12,000 to $15,000, meaning many small stations simply cannot afford such a luxury…and are stuck with smaller margins due to processing costs.

Wouldn’t NOT upgrading pumps at a cost of around 60K to 100K also help with those margins?

At any rate, here’s a photo taken at the 76 Station on Watt & Fair Oaks. If you have coins on you, it’ll run you $0.75 to fill up those tires. If you don’t, the price goes up to $1.25. You know, “Same as Cash.”

Author: RonTopofIt

RonTopofIt is a complex personality, as are most of the small breed of modern day renaissance millionaires. He wishes more people were like him and yet believes that it takes all kinds. You've met RonTopofIt many times, you just don't remember him.

8 thoughts on “How Convenient”

  1. The law states that if you fill up with gas, air is free. You only pay if that’s the only thing you are there for – air.


  2. Thanks, Catherine. Yeah, I’ve always had a tough time with that one. In my younger days, I would have to walk in, wait in line, tell the person behind the counter that I purchased gas (was I lying?) and could they activate the air…it was a whole scene.

    I eventually bought an air compressor.


  3. People pay more with a card because the cost of card membership (or, with a debit card, the bank fees) incurred by the gas station get passed along to the consumer.

    This really wasn’t an issue ten years ago when gas was around 99-cents per gallon. Stations didn’t need to be competitive with each other when it came to gas, air or water — they competed with commodities like car washes, convenience store items, and booze.

    These days — especially in the summer — ever penny counts, which is why there are often separate prices for cash and credit, with the cash option being cheaper.

    ARCO competes this way. ARCO stations don’t accept credit cards at all, so they don’t have to pay credit card membership fees, which means the savings — rather than the cost — is passed on to those who shop there. But if you want to use a debit card, it’ll cost you 45-cents, and that can sometimes make ARCO more expensive than the Chevron or 76 down the street with a no-card-fee, debit-same-as-cash pricing structure.


  4. Rontopofit, if the walk into the mini mart, line and walk back to your car was going to take you 2 minutes, you’d be earning $37.50 an hour (after taxes!) for your effort. That’s more than most “work at home” scams promise.

    The problem is that most people wont calculate the time value of money for these transactions. The vendors who developed this machine are counting on us to think that $1.25 is “worth it” to avoid dealing with the people waiting in line inside the gas station to buy their pack of marlboro reds and two lottery tickets in the morning.


  5. Wouldn’t NOT upgrading pumps at a cost of around 60K to 100K also help with those margins?

    Well, yes- but gas stations now have to recycle the .00003 grams of gas vapor that would otherwise leak into the atmosphere when you take the nozzel out after filling. Want clean air to fill your tires? You gotsta’ pay for it.


  6. I wonder how many idiots are confused by the verbiage “slide card for five minutes” as they sit there swiping, looking at the clock, swiping some more, humming a tune, swiping some more, checking the iPhone with the other hand, swiping..


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