They Do This On Purpose, Right?

You’re supposed to push the button without reading and just assume the first one is the least expensive.

I went for gas yesterday. It’s a 24/7 station at Capitol and Broad in Hartford just down the street from work.

Getting gas isn’t the kind of thing most of us think about deeply. Though the oil companies try and differentiate their products most people think (I certainly do) they’re all alike.

Octane does differ. My concern is not buying a higher grade than I need. It’s wasted money. Your car won’t be nicer to you if you use high test when it needs regular.

I pulled my Subaru Legacy to the pump and swiped my credit card. That’s when I noticed the grades of gasoline weren’t in the order you’d expect them!

Am I being too calculated in thinking they’re too calculated?

They do this on purpose, right? You’re supposed to push the button without reading and just assume the first one is the least expensive.

Maybe I need to raise my pissed off threshold.

29 thoughts on “They Do This On Purpose, Right?”

  1. Yep…they do. And may I add (and this is a pet peeve with me) many stations make it darn near impossible to stop on an exact dollar point unless you prepay inside after indicating a dollar amount to the clerk. Hey, a penny here and a penny there, right? What’s the big deal? Well, many pennies add up to many dollars. That really ticks me off!

    1. Kim… let me just say this –> you <– are one of the people who not are not only breaking the law; as you are NOT supposed to top off your tank! The pump shuts off when the gas reaches the sensor on the end of the spout for a reason. Here's a concept… it does this because your tank is FULL! I can tell you I've seen this happen at least 3x's if not more where I've seen fools try to "even out" their $$ at the pump such as you stated only to have it spill out creating not only a hazard to themselves but others around them with fresh gas on the ground!!

      Also; think about this, when you go to a grocery store or anywhere in general… do you ALWAYS make sure it's an even amount?! Are you that cheap?! I'll take the pennys out of my pocket and give them to you next time I see you around; how's that! My God!! What a ludicrous statement!

      1. Paul –

        This is a one time thing. I will not allow my website to be used to put down my viewers.

        Even if you disagree with Kim your response is way over-the-top. An apology would look nice right below this comment.


        1. I will apologize for getting a bit emotional and “taking it over the top” however; it is against the law and shouldn’t be done.

          1. At no point did Kim say that she was filling her car beyond the automatic shutoff point. I suspect she just wants to get $10 of gas, not $10.02.

          2. I see no mention at all of Kim claiming to try to “top off” her tank. I *think* she was just referring to trying to get $20.00 worth, etc., and it being near impossible to get the pump to stop on $20.00.

      2. What? Who said anything about topping off? If I simply want to pump $20 in, I mean it won’t stop at $20…it will stop at $20.01. And yes, I am THAT cheap. I’d like to call it “frugal”
        Have a nice day, Mr. Money bags. And by the way? I’ll be glad to take your pennies!

        1. I don’t understand how an even number saves you money. So you stop at $10.00 rather than $10.04; doesn’t that simply mean you need to stop and get gas 4 cents earlier??

          1. Well,yes, it’s a stupid penny. True, but the profit they can make by making it harder for consumers to stop on the price point of their choice can really add up based on the volume of customers. Again, it’s a marketing/profit ploy. Right up there with the age-old marketing strategy of placing the most expensive groceries in a store at eye level say rather than the better valued items.And alas, aligning the octane/price signs from higher to lower. All these things done in hopes that the consumer will not pay attention and therefore? Very profitable for the merchants and product providers. Welcome to the world of retail and “buyer beware”! Marketing is a very, very lucrative career and all based on tricking consumers, taking advantage of vulnerabilities of human nature, demographics, etc. With the economy so fragile, one MUST be careful about every purchase and everywhere.

  2. yes, SOME do that, but not all. I’ve experienced this a few times, and what I do is cancel the transaction, and walk into the “store” and tell them why I’m going somewhere else.

  3. Oh, yeah… I’m so penny-pinching that I always check the octane button — usually because I go to different stations that I know have better prices.
    And yes, Kristen, they do make it hard to round off. I do take small comfort in that I have the Bank O’merica keep-the-change.
    Geoff, my PO threshold was exceeded a long time ago!

  4. They also love to post the prices as $3.699….its $3.70, stop treating us like we are idiots! Who has $0.009 in their pockets?

  5. My personal favorite is when they put the levels highest to lowest! They do hope people won’t be paying attention and put the more expensive grade by mistake.

  6. I MUST say that I absolutely without exception have to round to the nearest even dollar amount when I fill my car up with gasoline. I will overflow the tank and let it run all over the ground just to make this happen. The attendant can deal with it.

  7. I agree, it doesn’t seem this was always the case, I clearly remember lowest to highest grade/prices, now you have to study the pump…. @ Paul, I don’t see anywhere in Kim’s post that she was topping off her tank???, just trying to round to the nearest whole dollar of which I agree. I think it’s harder to get to the nearest $ since the price/gal is so high, can’t ‘stop on a dime’ anymore…

  8. A lot of stations now make you pre-pay when you pay cash. That’s how you get an even dollar amount.

    BTW, has anyone else experienced this? I’ve noticed I burn through my gas much faster if I get it at Cumberland Farms/Gulf and at Hess. Most of the time I go to Citgo. There’s one on the way to work that’s usually the cheapest. ($3.399 at Citgo at 229 and Redstone Hill Road in Bristol)

    It seems to me too that some stations are taking advantage of their customers by being higher in price because of their location. I was coming home from a friend’s house in Wolcott last night and noticed that the Citgo on Route 69 was $3.559!!! That’s the only gas station along Route 69 until you hit Valero in Bristol or in the opposite direction the Cumberland Farms and BP stations much further down 69 towards the Waterbury border.

  9. i have paid cash at stations and have had the pump list the credit price for the gas..they use this scam at a station on the west end of waterbury on west main quite often…answer for this..the pump resets itself after every purchase..guess operator cant define between prepay or credit

  10. Yeah, it can get annoying.

    However, a piece of advice: Never get gas at Shell unless you’re really desperate. Geoff, if you go about a mile towards the courthouses on Washington & Lafayette, there a couple of stations (Mobil & Gulf) which are about 20 to 25 cents cheaper than that Shell on the corner of Broad and Capitol.

    And the Mobil is a 24/7.

  11. I hate the places that have the diesel on the same pump. Even though they’re green, you have to really stop and make sure you’re not grabbing the diesel by mistake. Also, the places where the octanes go highest to lowest, you’ll find they go in the correct order on the other side of the pump.

  12. Dianne,

    A diesel pump won’t fit into a gasoline spout – you can try all day, but it’s like trying to put a square peg through a round hole! (This is a good thing, as I know the confusion you’re describing!)

  13. My apologies, Jeff. I responded to Paul before I saw your admonishment. Paul, peace to you, dear. Have a good holiday…life is too short for fussing.

  14. the fuel is the same from company to company , the difference is the additives , which are patented from company to company and texaco and shell ..same company .. different additives .. friend of mine retired from texaco , switching the gas like everything else done on purpose ,just like the supermarkets putting the wrong price under the wrong item ,tooday i went to shop-rite and the shelves were loaded with stuffing in the box , with a price card right smack in the middle of the shelf with a 99 cent price on it , and hidden in a little 6″ space was gravy mix hardly noticable anomg four shelves wrapped around no less of stuffing , but mixed two brands , different packaging lets down your guard , you think thats all that is there but different color boxes, some the same color as the gravy mix . these corperations count on the fact you will be embaressed by noticing after you push the more expensive button , or pick up a probuct that is 50% more then you thought it was , and wont approach them to correct the pumps before you start pumping , or tell the cashier to put the item back i dont want them.,i put four boxes of stuffing back , and to add insult to injury, the self serve line , how many actually know there is a cancel button to stop the purchase , and even more devious (at the store i went to ) when an item is on sale it regesters the normal price till you bag it , then it deducts the sale … here i am waiting for the item to deduct , by the i had two in the bag , but i canceled them and made the cashier who watches self serve register do his job. … maybe if we make them take it back enough they will stop thier tricks .. but if you pump gas b4 you notice …sorry folks , you own it … its christmas time in the city …..happy shopping , and merry christmas

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