What’s the difference between a gas station and a convenience store? It may not matter to you, but it does to Marilyn Nenninger. And to me. “When is a gas station not a convenience store?”
At first, the court-ordered legal notice looked like junk mail. I was half right.
The notice was about junk — junk fees, that is.
“Looks like those gas station fees were a little scammy, after all”
At the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 101 in Willits, Calif., you’ll find three service stations. But look closely before you pump gas, otherwise you could pay a lot more than you expect.
What follows is a cautionary tale about junk fees, from an industry that journalists like me tend to ignore, unless it’s spilling hundreds of millions of gallons of unprocessed petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico.
But the cost of a product, both perceived and real, are very much in the news today, with a key part of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to kick in Oct. 1. Fees are a hot topic in my neck of the woods, with some industry apologists spinning the absurd argument that junk fees such as the ones I ran into are good for consumers, because it gives them choices.
“Junk fees and other obstacles of the road”
Ric Vesely knows about the car rental industry’s double standards. When he returned his Dollar Rent a Car vehicle in Minneapolis recently, an employee asked him a strange question: Did he have a receipt for his gasoline purchase?
Vesely, an engineer who was visiting from Colorado, hadn’t bought Dollar’s pricey fuel-purchase option, agreeing instead to return the vehicle with a full tank. He said he didn’t have a receipt, but that it didn’t matter — the needle on the gas gauge pointed to “full.”
“Don’t get broadsided by the car rental industry’s double standards”
Cheaper isn’t always better.
On a recent trip to Bend, Ore., I discovered that cheaper can actually mean more expensive.
The scam was perpetrated by a service station selling unleaded gas that’s 10 cents lower than the other stations along the road. With gas prices pushing $4 a gallon, a 10-cent saving is nothing to sneeze at.
“Let’s hear it for this gas price bait and switch!”