Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rip-off of the century!

This example of price gouging was so offensive, I thought it must have been a mistake!

Shame on you, Suncoast Energy.

Suncoast Energy operates a gas station close to the Orlando airport. I stopped in there yesterday to fill up the rental car before returning it, only to notice that the price was $3.99 per gallon!

No, that's not a typo, that was $3.99 per gallon! (Canadians: imagine gas at $1.90 per litre)

I thought for sure that they must have set the price wrong on the pump. I even went in to the store to confront the cashier (not that I was expecting her to do anything about it). She said the price was right. I reminded her that gas is, on average, about $1.99 per gallon right now. She said... are you ready for it... "We charge that much because we're the closest gas station to the airport".


I was immediately offended. How could they assume I would be so stupid as to pay more than double for a commodity product (87 Octane gas is basically the same no matter where you buy it)?

They are obviously deliberately price gouging. They assume people filling up on their way to the airport won't notice the price until they finish filling up and realize they paid double what they usually pay. By then it's too late - they have to pay. They are also assuming people aren't willing or able to go anywhere else (there was another gas station ONE BLOCK away - $1.92 per gallon). Get this: they don't even have a sign by the side of the road (like EVERY other gas station in the world does) because they're worried people might notice before they pull in to the station. Wait - there's more! You have to pre-pay!

I understand the concept of premium pricing as much as anyone... but not for a commodity product! If you have a clearly superior product (think Ferrari, Rolex), then premium pricing is expected. For commodity products (think paper, fast food), there can be minor fluctuations in pricing (usually related to location or packaging), but not double! The gas station near our cottage is the only station for at least 25 kms, so we're forced to pay about 10% more. We don't like it, we complain about it, and we try to fill up elsewhere because we know gas is gas is gas. I can't even imagine paying 108% more. The gas station would go out of business. I certainly hope that fate comes to Suncoast Energy.

They're clearly trying to capitalize on consumers' need for convenience, but to an offensive level. They're manipulative. And in this economy, their audacity sickens me.

Have your say: I dare you to think of a worse example.


Glenn Cressman said...

Update: Found lots of forums and blogs complaining about the same station, and the owner continues to defend his position.

Here's one from Trip Advisor:


You'll notice someone actually filed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General

Carmi said...

That's beyond the pale, Glenn. I'd specifically avoid ever tanking up from any Suncoast station in future. What a cynical way to treat customers.