Tonawanda News

Business

January 20, 2010

GAS PRICES: Some stations' deceiving signs anger motorists

One high-priced filling station in North Tonawanda has a new weapon to confuse money-conscious customers who might otherwise debate and switch — the bait and switch.

NT Mobil at the corner of Division and Robinson streets offers drivers a sign displaying almost exactly the current fair market price for a gallon of gas, around $2.95 (and of course the standard nine tenths of a penny). Problem is, the price drivers see when they get to the pump is $3.05.

If they see it at all.

The station advertises a competitive rate to drivers moving fast along Twin City Memorial Highway, along with some ultra fine print reading: “with car wash.”

“When you think you’re pumping two dollars and whatever you’re not looking you just pump,” resident Chris Strahin said while recounting his own experience with the ploy.

Indeed, so long as they buy a car wash priced between $6 and $8, Mobil customers get roughly the same deal as those at the two closest stations.

The fine print is there for all to see, after all, providing your vision is that of an F-16 pilot. But Strahin said he had already started paying the $3.05 by the time he realized the ruse.

Even worse news for him is the fact that rate is possibly the highest in all of Western New York according to numbers posted on buffalogasprices.com.

“I looked up and it said it was $2.95 per gallon but in the little fine print it said ‘with wash.’ But you don’t see that. I almost hit the floor. I put in $5 just so I could get home. It’s a rip-off.”

Of course, there’s also the fact that residents in this area are already paying some of the highest prices in the nation.

“Price gouging is one thing without scamming people like that,” Strahin said.

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