Gas prices raise consumer questions

March 10, 2011 3:58:49 PM PST
With gas prices going up nearly every day, people are paying close attention to how much a gallon of gas costs and they're complaining when the price is not right. But when are the complaints valid and when are stations actually following the rules? The spike in gas prices is making people angry, especially when they feel a service station is using under-handed tactics.

When it comes to paying for gas, the advertised price at this gas station is not what you pay at this pump. The initial price for super unleaded at this station is $3.83, but if you pay with a credit card the price shoots up to $3.99 a gallon.

Driver Neil Neo said, "I was shocked, so I went in and checked with the lady at the counter and she said it was perfectly alright."

While gas stations cannot charge you more for using a credit card, they can offer a discount to those paying in cash. According to the Better Business Bureau, as long as the service station discloses the price is a discount for cash customers, it is OK.

Another problem, pumps that do not start on zero.

Gas customer Andy Boyter said, "Every time I pick up the pump, it registers 11 cents before I even start fueling."

Boyter says it happened more than once at this station, but when we checked the pumps did start at zero. However, a store clerk did tell us that occasionally the pumps do start at 11 cents, and that he gives consumers the money back.

The Texas Department of Agriculture will investigate allegations of misreading pumps.

Another issue, prices are different at stations across town.

ABC News found the highest gas price in the nation at service stations near the Orlando airport. We found most stations at Bush Intercontinental Airport sell gas for the average price in Houston -- $3.40 a gallon.

But one station charges 15 cents more per gallon. The owner tells us the problem is credit card interchange fees which are three cents per dollar. The owner says 90 percent of his customers use credit cards and due to interchange fees he must charge more or would go out of business.

If you think there is a problem with the gas pumps, you can contact the Texas Department of Agriculture, which tests the pumps.

However, higher prices at some stations are only considered price gouging after an emergency has been declared by the governor, such as a hurricane.