Help! My Gas Pump Doesn't Even Go To $4.00!

It sucks to be a “Mom & Pop” gas station owner these days. Gas station owning isn’t as profitable as you might think (the oil company gets most of the money) and now it seems that thousands of older pumps just don’t have the ability to charge more than $3.99 per gallon — and also can’t charge more than $99 for the total sale, preventing truck and SUV owners from filling their tanks up all the way.

As many as 8,500 of the nation’s 170,000 service stations have old-style meters that need to be fixed — about 17,000 individual pumps, said Bob Renkes, executive vice president of the Petroleum Equipment Institute of Tulsa, Okla.

At Chip Colville’s Chevron station in this eastern Washington town, where men in the family have pumped gas since 1919, three stubby, gray pumps were installed when gas was less than $1 a gallon. They top out at $3.999, only 30 cents above the price of regular gas at Colville’s station.

“In small towns, where you don’t have the volume, there’s no way you can afford to pay for the replacements for these old pumps,” Colville said. “It’s just not economically feasible.”

The pumps will have to be retrofitted with new meters that go up to $4.99, but experts say that this puts a lot of strain on the old pumps.

Old Gas Pumps Can’t Handle Ever-Rising Prices [Boston Herald]
(Photo: AP)

Comments

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  1. so that means they’ll have to be retrofitted again when gas goes above $4.99/gal?

    weaksauce

  2. backbroken says:

    “The pumps will have to be retrofitted with new meters that go up to $4.99″

    So they plan on future-proofing for about 18 months?

  3. winstonthorne says:

    Good to know this situation sucks for everyone I care about. The only people making out are OPEC and the oil companies.

  4. trk182 says:

    “and also can’t charge more than $99 for the total sale, preventing truck and SUV owners from filling their tanks up all the way”

    Of course, stopping at $90 and then putting in your CC again and starting gain is too hard for most people to handle.

  5. spoco says:

    The small time station in my area has set their pumps to “you pay twice what the pump says”

  6. winstonthorne says:

    @backbroken: 18 months!? Your estimates are more conservative than Bush’s initial budget projection for the Iraq war. This crap’s $4 now, and we haven’t even touched peak season yet.

  7. Greeper says:

    …”The oil companies get most of the money….” is patently untrue and even laughable. The economics of selling gas is very complicated, but that statement demonstrates a pretty wholesale lack of any understanding of the issue, and plays into the whiny culture of consume-and-complain that is at the root of the real problem. (Disclosure: I do work for an oil company, but no, I’m not a shill for them and am a frequent commenter on many topics here).

  8. Elvisisdead says:

    Maybe it’s a sure sign that this is getting out of control. When delivery systems are incapable of charging the price, the price is getting too high.

  9. CRNewsom says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to fit them with meters that go to $9.99? That way, you’re making the most use of the numerical places you have…

  10. humphrmi says:

    This was a problem many years ago when gas went above $1 a gallon, pumps couldn’t deal with a price greater than $0.999 a gallon. For a long time, gas stations had to set the pumps to deliver gas at half price and then the total sale was doubled when you went in to pay. Which won’t work now with pay-at-pump. Sigh, I thought they fixed this then.

  11. Balisong says:

    That’s pretty awful for these gas-station owners. When I was little my grandparents and mother owned a small gas station and repair shop so I sympathize. And yes, they don’t make much money.

  12. Bladefist says:

    4.99, California will be over that soon. I would just make it accept your paycheck, and just make it easier for everyone.

  13. wgrune says:

    @trk182:

    Re-swiping your credit card would have nothing to do with anything in this situation since these pumps dont have card readers. These are the old-style pumps with the “analog” dials that physically turn (think odometers in cars before they went to digital, or, look at the picture in the post). Retrofitting these pumps to go over $99.99 would be a huge pain, as you cant just duct tape another 0-9 wheel in between the dollar sign and the existing 4 digits that make up the total price on the pump.

  14. coan_net says:

    Already in 2005, many of those owners had to retrofit when the gas went above $2.999 a gallon.

    The problem is that the gears in there that run are not meant to handle spinning so fast… meaning the higher the price of gas, the more chance that those gears can’t keep up and breaking. (causing even more cost to the already cash-straped local gas station owner.)

    I don’t think it was mentioned in the linked article, but was reading elsewhere that is some small towns (where there is only 1 gas station for many many miles around), they are going to pricing at 1/2 gallon on the pump – then just doubling the price once you get to the register. (so if your total on the pump is $25 – you actually owe $50)

  15. Toof_75_75 says:

    “the oil company gets most of the money” – HAHA, Classic.

  16. Fireburt says:

    The gas companies only make about 8 cents per gallon of gasoline, while the government makes (taxes) you somewhere around 80 cents per gallon, depending on where you live. Yeah a billion is a lot of money, but how much did Washington D.C. make off of it?

  17. backbroken says:

    @winstonthorne: Remember back in ’00 when Bush ran as the guy who could strong arm the oil companies into bringing the high cost of gas back down? What was it back then, $1.60 or something like that? Oh, those were heady times indeed.

  18. Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to 4.99. Look, right across the board, 4.99, 4.99, 4.99 and…
    Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most pumps go up to 3.99?
    Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
    Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s more expensive? Is it any more expensive?
    Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one dollar more, isn’t it? It’s not 3.99. You see, most blokes, you know, will be pumping at 3.99. You’re on 3.99 here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on 3.99 on your credit card. Where can you go from there? Where?
    Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.
    Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
    Marty DiBergi: Put it up to 4.99.
    Nigel Tufnel: 4.99. Exactly. One dollar.
    Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make 3.99 the highest and make 3.99 be the top number?
    Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to 4.99.

  19. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @spoco:

    Report them. Seriously.

  20. Suttin says:

    @humphrmi:

    I think the only pumps you can pay at the pump at are digital anyway, so it would only work with the oldschool pumps, and you would have to go inside anyway to pay, even if the price wasnt halved

  21. trk182 says:

    @wgrune:

    oooooh well in that case why wait 20 yrs to update your pumps. I don’t even go to a gas station if i can’t pay at the pump unless the alternative is pushing my car.

  22. Balisong says:

    @Jaysyn: Why? Did you even read the article?

  23. bobpence says:

    @CRNewsom: Better still, make people learn hexadecimal. Three positions + 10ths gets you to $40.96 15/16ths in decimal (as F.FFF).

  24. Bladefist says:

    @Toof_75_75: Ya the government doesn’t get any, and none of the rest of the money goes to the foreign oil countries who are building the massive sky scrapers. Nope. None of them.

  25. Bladefist says:

    @bobpence: i know your joking, but i doubt their current pumps have A-F.

  26. Boy Howdy says:

    @Ash78: How much higher can it go?

    The answer is none. None more high.

  27. dottat1 says:

    IF you have to stop and re-swipe your card to fill your tank.. you probably should be looking for a new car to drive.

  28. Boltonism says:

    Pumps in Texas stop at $60 to $75 a purchase. Gotta wonder why they want to cover two debit card fees instead of one (which is required of me every time).

  29. winstonthorne says:

    @Greeper: It’s probably best not to admit you work for an oil company on a Consumerist thread on the subject of those companies screwing small businesses and individuals, and denying any bias after doing so will only throw more fuel on the fire.

    So far I’ve heard that refineries and gas stations are getting hit, and I know from (painful) experience that consumers are feeling the squeeze. Government gas taxes are fixed (or relatively so), and you claim that the oil companies are not turning record profits (an assertion which flies in the face of everything we see and hear in the news), tell me – who’s collecting Bladefist’s paycheck?

  30. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I can’t remember the last time I filled up at a station with pumps this old. I see them, and if I’m not on empty I’m driving to the next station. If the pumps are that old I don’t trust the gas in the tanks (This probably has no basis in fact).

    many rural stations have upgraded to electronic pumps, as it allows them to sell gas all night without employees. It has saved me from running out several times (Most stations leave the lights on, but I’ve filled up in near total darkness at some).

  31. aixwiz says:

    @backbroken: Dude, you’re WAY too optimistic! I’m expecting to see prices like that by the end of summer.

  32. beboptheflop says:

    @Greeper: Thank you! I’m getting so sick of society making the oil companies out to be the big bad wolf. We don’t feel the way we do about other companies that provide a necessity for us that we do for oil companies. Why don’t we get upset with the government (Fed and local) for the taxes levied on gasoline, for which, depending on the state, can be as much as $.50.
    It costs just as much to buy a gallon of milk as it does a gallon of gasoline and you don’t hear the masses wanting to crucify dairy farmers. Of course not, so buy more fuel efficient cars, make fewer errands,and use public transportation.

  33. davere says:

    I understand that they probably figured that by the time gas went up to $4/gallon those pumps would no longer be in service but…. if they had a “dollar” number wheel, why couldn’t it be the same as the other wheels and go up to 9?

  34. SarcasticDwarf says:

    @discounteggroll:

    Yup, but because these pumps are mechanical and the gears wear faster the more options the pumps will need to be replaced anyway. It sucks but there are not too many options.

  35. Bladefist says:

    @winstonthorne: they are turning record profits because of the idiot speculators in washington who are driving the market price of Gas way up over the actual price. Also, when speculators underestimate the value of gas, like in the past, oil companies have taken record hits.

    And the onlything a winfall tax is going to hurt is your 401ks.

  36. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    @Boltonism:
    That may be a limit on debit instead of credit, but part of it is a courtesy to the customer.

    They start out with an authorization transaction, and many banks will place a hold on those funds even after the transaction has completed. There is also the problem of someone using debit whom doesn’t have $100 in their account.

    If you are using debit with a pin its typically only costing them $0.05 – $0.30. If you run it as credit add another 1.5-3.5% of the purchase total.

  37. Anyone have a breakdown on where the money goes. I remember seeing something years ago that did that. FROM what I remember the majority of the money did go to oil companies. With the oil producing countries coming in second.

  38. Bladefist says:

    @hypochondriac: Not sure if this is a fact, but found this:

    73% Crude Oil (was 46% a year ago…) 7% Refineries 8% Marketing 11% Taxes

  39. madrigal says:

    @trk182: In small towns, this is usually the only type of pump you will see.

  40. Bladefist says:

    this is from 2007, more reputable source.

    [www.walkonmypath.com]

  41. beboptheflop says:

    @hypochondriac: If most of the money does go to the oil companies, than that pays for the expense to turn crude oil into gasoline. Who do you think pays for the refineries, transportation of gasoline, enviromental clean ups, etc? It can be expensive. Yet at the same time, they are in a business to make money. The oil companies aren’t a charity. They work on the economic premise of basic supply and demand. We as a society demand and they supply.

  42. Bladefist says:

    maybe its 2006. Anywho it is by the DOE.

  43. winstonthorne says:

    @beboptheflop: I don’t want them to be a charity, but I’m sick of hearing about them turning record PROFITS (which have already factored for costs; otherwise they would say “revenues”) while American families and small gas station owners suffer.

    I don’t care who started this insane climb in prices (and big oil profits) – speculators, agents of the oil companies, Osama Bin-freakin’-Laden – doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that the oil companies are rolling in dough, and the middle and working class are getting rolled.

  44. @beboptheflop: Thanks, But what I don’t get is why do they get billions in tax credits? They are already earning billions in profits. The only environmental cleanup I remember is exon in Alaska. Even then they were accused of skimping on the cleanup.

  45. Greeper says:

    @winstonthorne:

    WHy would I deny working for an oil company? It’s true. Just because I work for one doesn’t mean I can’t think critically about issues that affect me as a consumer. Oil companies are making lots of money because the price of crude is high and because there is demand for every gallon of crude. THe price of crude has little to do with US gasoline demand and much more to do with politics, speculation, the weak dollar, and huge demand for crude in CHina and developing countries.

    Incidentally, when I started working here in 1996, our department did away with coffee because the price of oil was $12 a barrel, which was less than the cost of producing it. I dont remember consumers crying for oil companies then. Anyway, I don’t really care either way; it’s not like I benefit from company profits — even oil comapnies’ stocks are almost flat in spite of profits and oil prices.

    My point is that it’s long been understood that gas prices have zero impact on an integrated oil company’s bottom line, which is why the industry is moving fast towards getting out of retail (Shell and Texaco, for example, already did that — the brand is there but they don’t own any stations). Stations make money on lottery and cigarettes, not gas. BUt the point is, oil companies don’t get most of the money from the pump, and in many markets probably lose money on the gallon due to long term supply agreements and geographic reasons (it is expensive for Chevron to get gasoline to, say, Ohio, but it has to compete with Sheets, so it’s prices — dictated by the market) are lower than it’s actual costs to supply its dealers. (Again, it’s so complex we could go back and forth forever, but I just thought the statement was absurd and needed to be called out).

  46. se7a7n7 says:

    @Greeper: we’re supposed to believe you drivel? Exxon made $77,245 PER MINUTE in 2007-that’s more money generated per minute than 70 percent of Americans earned all year, according to the Census Bureau. I’m sure this number has only increased now as the price of gas has greatly increased as well.

    Those poor poor Oil Companies… Maybe they need more tax breaks?

  47. beboptheflop says:

    @winstonthorne: I see what you are saying, but we as a society can control how much of our income we spend on gasoline (thus not giving it to the oil companies) by buying more fuel efficient cars, carpooling, using public transportation, and running less errands. Ultimately the power is in our hands instead of being “victims”.

  48. backbroken says:

    @beboptheflop:

    Here we go…You don’t hear the masses calling for the heads of dairy farmers because:

    1. we don’t use 20 gallons of milk every week
    2. we have reasonable alternatives to milk

  49. ,@Bladefist: Thanks but the breakdown I was looking divided the cost even more. It showed what the oil companies earned and what the oil countries earned. I betting this is false but I have friends who work in gulf countries according to them Saudi and other countries sell oil at about $40. The rest is the market doing what it does ,

  50. chiieddy says:

    They’re starting to let some places charge by the half gallon.

  51. sean77 says:

    @AustinTXProgrammer: If the pumps are that old, it’s not unreasonable to mistrust their metering ability.

    Google for “fuel pump inspection” and your city, or your state’s department of weights and measures.

    Usually you can look up a specific station’s inspections. The pumps can be 2% off in either direction. At $4 a gallon, you can be ripped off 8 cents a gallon, and the pump would be considered working correctly.

    The killer is, they regularly find pumps that are 10% of or more. If you went to that pump the day before the inspection, you paid 40 cents a gallon more than you needed to (at $4 a gallon).

    Check your department of weights and measures for repeat offenders.

  52. beboptheflop says:

    @hypochondriac:We can’t blame the oil companies for that one, we only have your Senator, or Congressperson to blame. If you owned a company, wouldn’t you take any type of tax break you could get if given the chance?

  53. Toof_75_75 says:

    @winstonthorne:

    What would you rather Gas companies do? Not make money? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of being a company? Remember, gas companies pay taxes and gas companies pay wages…it’s not like they are hoarding their profits…

  54. KyleOrton says:

    @trk182: I’m going to go out on a limb and say these pumps don’t have credit card readers.

  55. beboptheflop says:

    @beboptheflop: Not your Senator or Congressperson, but our Senators and Congresspersons.

  56. Greeper says:

    @se7a7n7: My last comment, because again, I’m not here to defend big oil….but what’s wrong with making profit? I thought that was a good thing? Oil profit margins are in line with and less than other industry sectors. THere is risk and reward in it. And you’re talking about tax breaks but you probably dont have any idea what you’re talking about, how much oil companies pay in taxes, or the impact of increased taxes on things that would help you (like increased production). You really just want to whine and complain about a global, cyclical market when it hurts you and benefit from it when the market is down. I think people should be honest when they attack someone else, even an oil company and ask if their complaint is based at all in fact…like the comment above, like the comments about environmental impacts, taxes, prices, gouging, profits, etc. It’s like we think if we repeat falsehood enough they are somehow true. And I dont think working for an oil company makes me more credible, but it can make me more knowledgeable, and don’t we want an honest, factual, discussion, or do we want to just complain?

  57. anarcurt says:

    Goodbye Suburbs!
    Give me subways!
    Give me light rail!
    City here I come!

  58. sir_eccles says:

    They laughed at me when I said mine went up to eleven!

  59. @spoco: Just like 1979. Lots of pumps were set up like this (2x display). I’d also be getting all New Jersey on this and having some kid pump the gas (in the rain/snow/etc). $7.15/hr. is a small price to pay for preventing really expensive drive-offs.

  60. Easiest solution: move the decimal points one place to the right on the old-timey pumps. Now they’re good until prices exceed $39.99 a gallon.

    As a consumer relations bonus, they won’t be able to charge that annoying nine-tenths of a cent.

  61. spoco says:

    They aren’t doing anything illegal. I think their pumps only go to $2.99, so they have it set to %1.80 for $3.60 gas, and they have signs that clearly say you pay double what the meter says. It’s a mom and pop and by the look of things, they aren’t the ones getting rich.

  62. @beboptheflop: They have some blame. I remembering hearing a news report in which the oil companies stated if the government eliminated the tax credit they would have increase prices. I don’t blame the oil companies fully for the high cost of gas but they are part of the problem. Not really sure how much speculators add to the cost but they do

  63. beboptheflop says:

    @backbroken: I’m well aware I don’t buy 20 gallons of milk a week, but I don’t but 20 gallons of gasoline a week either because I use different forms of transportaion. Because we have reasonable alternatives to SUVs and Dodge Hemis and … you get my point.
    None the less, I still cringe at the supermarket checkout when I do buy my 2 gallons of milk at almost $4.00 a gallon. But I buy it anyway because I need it.

  64. beboptheflop says:

    @hypochondriac: I agree, it is a two way street. I just don’t think it’s fair to exclusively blame the oil companies for out current situation.

  65. se7a7n7 says:

    @Greeper: Which facts would I be making up?

    The fact that big oil companies are getting nearly 1 billion dollars in tax break?

    The fact that oil companies are making outrageous profits right now that are well documented?

    The fact that the price of gas is making everything cost more and really hurting the entire country (except for the oil companies of course) at the same time the oil companies are claiming that they aren’t making money?

    Just because you’re not sure if I actually know these well known facts doesn’t make them any less true.

  66. se7a7n7 says:

    (revised) The fact that big oil companies are getting nearly 1 billion dollars in tax breaks per year?

  67. ophmarketing says:

    @backbroken: Which ‘alternatives to milk’ would you be thinking of? Last time I checked, pouring iced tea on my cereal made the Cheerios taste like crap…

  68. PunditGuy says:

    The obvious solution is to stop using fossil-fuel enabled internal combustion to get around. Switching to hydrogen or something else could be a 20-year process, but if we’d started in 2000 we’d be more than a third of the way there. Instead, we elected two oilmen to run the country.

    The oil companies can take whatever they can grab; that’s the American way. I hold no grudge about that. That doesn’t stop me from hoping beyond hope that some energy upstart will put all of these dinosaurs out of business in my lifetime.

    Hell, I think high gas prices are a good thing. It’s the only way to get people to stop buying Hummers (the vehicle, not the other thing), consider alternative forms of energy or just plain conserve.

  69. backbroken says:

    @beboptheflop: There are alternatives to SUV’s, but none of them will completely eliminate your need to pay for gas either directly (pump it into your 50 mpg 2-seater) or indirectly (bus fare, airfare, etc).

  70. winstonthorne says:

    @Toof_75_75: Clarification: I am perfectly happy with oil companies making money. There’s a very fine line, however, between making money and throttling the availability of something which, in today’s society, is absolutely essential for everyday life.

    If you live in a city, maybe you can get by, but if you’re in the sticks (or even in many suburbs), there is little to know public transportation.

  71. sxs3200 says:

    I have a better solution… bring gas prices back down below $3.99 and keep them there…

  72. backbroken says:

    @ophmarketing: The alternative to having milk poured on your cereal is to not have cereal and milk. I’m certain you would cope quite well if you never bought another gallon of milk.

    Your argument is the equivalent of someone saying “What alternatives to gas do I have? Am I supposed to put water into my gas tank instead?”

    Try not consuming gasoline and not consuming milk for a month. Let me know which was more feasible.

  73. winstonthorne says:

    @PunditGuy: Amen to the alt. fuel sentiment. If only some funding were diverted to that project, rather than trillion-dollar wars on absolutely nothing.

  74. adent1066 says:

    How about sell gasoline by the litre like the rest of the world ? Wow, we could have $1 prices on the gas station signs again. :)

  75. backbroken says:

    @PunditGuy: We’d be 1/3 of the way to alternative fuels… but if not fer yer oilmen, Saddam would have used his ‘nucular’ weapons on us!!!

    Oh I crack myself up sometimes.

  76. Toof_75_75 says:

    @winstonthorne:
    I most definitely live in the sticks and I’ve never had a problem getting fuel for my car. Personally, I would not use public transportation even if it were somehow available. The only reason people get mad at gas companies is because of their scale. Most companies probably have a larger % of profit than gas companies do, but because their % is worth so much, people assume they are doing something wrong. If it weren’t for these gas companies, we would have gas. If you want someone to be mad at over gas prices, you don’t need to look any further than Washington. If you want someone to be even more mad at, you’ll need a telescope or binoculars so you can look across the Atlantic Pond at the countries who truly are throttling us.

  77. TheBigLewinski says:

    @Toof_75_75: Hey dumb ass, Exxon made more than $100 million PER DAY in PROFIT last quarter. Get your head out of your ass.

    The hedge funds are driving the price of commodities but the oil companies are raping us.

  78. Toof_75_75 says:

    @winstonthorne:
    Right, alternative fuels like Ethanol which have driven our food prices through the roof…good call!

  79. Vandon says:

    @trk182: “Of course, stopping at $90 and then putting in your CC again and starting gain is too hard for most people to handle.”

    Yes, considering 2 back-to-back charges at the same gas pump will lock your card. Many CC companies automatically lock your card after the 2nd back to back fill up since many times, stolen credit cards are used to fill up all their buddies’ gas tanks.

  80. Toof_75_75 says:

    @TheBigLewinski:
    HAHAHAHAHA You’re awesome. Also of note, you just made my point. You are mad at the scale of Exxon, regardless of the small % of profit.

  81. backbroken says:

    @beboptheflop: Want to know one of the reasons why your milk is $4 a gallon?

    Because the truck that hauled it to the market doesn’t run on wishes.

    The cost of fuel affects the cost of everything.

  82. @Boltonism: “Pumps in Texas stop at $60 to $75 a purchase. Gotta wonder why they want to cover two debit card fees instead of one (which is required of me every time).”

    I think it’s a Credit Card company limitation/requirement.

  83. Toof_75_75 says:

    @backbroken:
    Also, because the cost of food for the cows is getting more expensive because we are wasting our corn on ethanol.

  84. adent1066 says:

    Go metric, gasoline will be $1 again. LOL

  85. winstonthorne says:

    @Toof_75_75: Toof, I hate Ethanol in every conceivable way. When I say “alternative fuels,” (or agree to someone else’s statements regarding alternative fuels), I am speaking in a GENERAL sense. Of course we can’t fuel our cars with food; that’s idiotic. That said, there must be other technologies out there which offer a more sustainable fuel supply and/or less environmental impact.

  86. forgottenpassword says:

    Now I understand why the items in the convenience stores are so overpriced!

    Independant stations are going out of business around here left & right. Sadly the station owners are the ones bearing the brunt of the public’s ire.

    The other day while pumping gas… I saw that someone had scratched the words “gas rape” on the pump’s face. I LOL’ed.

    p.s. local government (via add-on taxes) & the oil cartels are profiting the most from high-priced gas.

  87. Bladefist says:

    @Toof_75_75: I was going to say that, but I didn’t know if cows ate corn.

    But Ethanol is going to save this country. It’s 20% cheaper. Lets leave that fact alone and not mention its 20% less efficient. No no, I don’t like my data in context. burn the food!

  88. TheBigLewinski says:

    @Toof_75_75: Dude, I am not mad “at the scale of Exxon.” What pisses me off is they have an oligopoly on the market, so few companies that it is a virtual monopoly. They use this position to drive the prices up, then they throw in a little “down-time” at a refinery just for good measure, it helps ensure a strong demand.

    I want to see our government invest up to 1/2 trillion dollars over the next 5-7 years to bring more econonical and greener energy to the US.

  89. Buran says:

    @Toof_75_75: Oh yeah, like actually acting to reduce environmental harm is “a waste”. It’s attitudes like that that have quite likely sent us PAST the tipping point and global warming can no longer be stopped.

    But it’s still not a waste to use the cleanest fuels we can so that we can still save things if we haven’t passed the tipping point yet, and besides, who wants to live in a smog-filled polluted mess anyway?

  90. Bladefist says:

    @TheBigLewinski: Bush is going to go talk to the sons of bitches

    [news.yahoo.com]

    he’ll fix it for ya :)

  91. Toof_75_75 says:

    @TheBigLewinski:
    The cause of rising prices is cost, not a decision by the oil companies. If the raw itself didn’t COST so much, the oil companies could make their small % profit and the price of gas at the pump would be lower.

    @forgottenpassword:
    It’s a little disappointing that people don’t realize that the owners of stores with gas pumps really don’t make their money on gas sales. They might make a penny or two per gallon, at best. Sometimes they take losses on it.

  92. TheBigLewinski says:

    @Bladefist: LMAO, the bastards probably just going for the camel races.

  93. Bladefist says:

    @Buran: it costs the consumers billions of dollars and there is no scientific evidence that that global warming is caused by humans. It was the coldest April in 114 years, and the ocean temps are all down. You’re opinion makes sense if you can accept the universal lie that is: global warming.

    Who caused the ice age?

  94. Toof_75_75 says:

    @Buran:
    If we can confirm we are already past your stated “tipping point,” then can we stop wasting money and lining Al Gore’s pockets on Global Warming initiatives? I can’t wait for the global temperature to make its way through the cycle and get back to cooling so you can all look like fools…Though, undoubtedly, you’ll claim it’s because of your silly environmental garbage fighting back against the warming.

  95. Toof_75_75 says:

    @Bladefist:
    Well put.

  96. matto says:

    So ah, did nobody else notice that there is apparently a “Petroleum Equipment Institute” in Tulsa?

  97. uberbucket says:

    Give me back my electric car.

  98. Toof_75_75 says:

    @uberbucket:
    Speaking of, I don’t feel like looking, did the Tesla Roadster ever end up making it to production? That actually looked pretty cool.

  99. bobfromboston says:

    @beboptheflop: Even if I never drive a car, the price of oil affects just about everything in my life: heating my house, the cost of groceries and other goods delivered to retailers; the cost of doing business for every store and business I patronize, which drives up their prices; the cost of doing business for my employer, which puts the squeeze on profits and thus any salary increases for me and my colleagues; the cost of leisure activities, vacation travel, etc.

    Oil costs are crushing the poor and middle class, both directly and indirectly. Meanwhile, oil companies are indeed reaping unprecedented profits. Your simplistic arguments don’t hold water.

  100. AD8BC says:

    @CRNewsom: It’s a mechanical limitation. When the attendant changes the prices by rotating the number dials, it changes a certain gear that changes the price multiple per gallon (how fast the money meter turns).

    The strain that this puts on the pumps as referred to in the article is actually a strain on the gears… not only do your new price multiple gears need smaller (and more fragile) teeth, more of the guts spin faster, putting more torque on the inner works than it was designed for 20-30 years ago.

  101. Toof_75_75 says:

    @bobfromboston:
    “unprecedented profits” from Unprecedented Demand

  102. Greeper says:

    @TheBigLewinski: “They use this position to drive the prices up, then they throw in a little “down-time” at a refinery just for good measure, it helps ensure a strong demand.”

    What refinery shut down to keep supplies low? This allegation was investigated three times by Congress and resulted in a Civil Investigative Demand by the Deaprtment of Justice, who concluded that there was no evidence to support the allegation. I’m curious to what event you’re referring?

    And how specifically do oil companies use their market power to inflate crude prices? Please be specific. It’s hard to engage in any kind of real thoughful debate/conversation when you make such open-ended, unsupported statements, however popular, without any real facts or evidence to back them up.

    I can respect (but not agree with) the socialist argument that government should subsidize commodities, if the person making the argument is willing to call a spade a spade. But alleging that a company does something wrong by making a profit — in line with profit margins of all iundustries — seems a little disingenuous, especially when the allegations have been refuted by anyone who has taken the time to investigate them fairly.

  103. uberbucket says:

    @Toof_75_75:
    They are having production “issues” last time I heard. Plus the claim that a business partner is/was ripping of their proprietary technology.

    Agreed, I’d kill for one of those.

  104. Kajj says:

    @trk182: Wow, I thought it was going to be impossible with an article like this, but you snuck one by there. How do you read “Mom and Pop gas station owners are struggling” and come away with “Stupid lazy truckers?”

  105. PunditGuy says:

    I’m old enough to remember (barely) that Global Cooling was all the rage in the scientific community in the 70s. To the extent that the Global Warming folks just want to reduce pollutants, I’ll climb on board even though I’m dubious as to the underlying reasons.

  106. Crymson_77 says:

    Ethanol is raping us just as much as gasoline is. Neither is a long term solution unless we all plan on spending $50 for a gallon of milk and $150 a gallon for gasoline. The ultimate solution is solar power and ev cars. It is only a few years away too. Making 100 million per day is just outright insane. BTW, if we got rid of the subsidies that the government pays idiots to NOT farm, I think we would all be better off because then our tax money could be misused in some other insanely stupid way.

  107. TheBigLewinski says:

    @Toof_75_75: I agree that the cost of the raw materials has more than doubled in the past year. However, the extraction, shipping and refining costs have not doubled so when the oil companies make the same “small % of profit”, it is on a now much larger number.

    It get complicated by how much they purchase vs. how much they produce themselves.

    I hope the government is still filling out Strategic Oil Reserves. As I recall they were pumping approx 1 million bbd into the reserve. Pump those other greasy bastards dry.

  108. Crymson_77 says:

    @Toof: Yes, the Tesla is currently in production on the small scale. They have delivered a bunch already. Can’t wait for them to have the sedan out and drive the cost down further.

  109. wallapuctus says:

    I hope it goes higher. We need to get off oil and nothing will accomplish that faster than an economic crisis. People don’t care about the planet, they care about their money. Hit em where it hurts.

  110. Toof_75_75 says:

    @PunditGuy:
    See, I don’t mind the idea of conserving…I don’t mind people wanting to drive cars that get better gas mileage to save themselves money…I DO mind the idea that the government needs to make laws as to what the gas mileage for a car needs to be or what kind of light bulb I can use in my house (Especially because the CFLs make such ugly light!)

  111. Crymson_77 says:

    @wallapuctus: Of course, nevermind the economic impact to the entire world that is involved in that, not to mention the infrastructure that allows the transportation of goods and the providing of services, all of which run on oil based platforms, and nevermind that without oil we also don’t have plastics…

  112. wallapuctus says:

    @Crymson_77: Better get to work then!

  113. uberbucket says:

    I for one welcome our new petroleum overlords…just kidding.

    I ride my bike to work now thanks to there obscene gas prices. A 125 mile per week commute that has me in the best shape I have been in in 10 years.

    Thank you big oil!

  114. uberbucket says:

    EDIT:
    there = these

  115. Bladefist says:

    @uberbucket: thats one of the better attitudes I like. Hate it when people whine because the other option is an inconvenience

  116. Lucky225 says:

    Frankly, I’m surprised the old pumps even go to $3/gallon — there’s a reason they don’t go to $3.99 — gas isn’t meant to be priced that high!

  117. Kevin Cotter says:

    Sell gas by the quart, problem solved!

  118. sketchy says:

    Go metric. those pumps will be good for years to come. Problem solved and them ‘Merican Kids will finally understand at least one part of the metric system in use in all other civilized nations.

  119. @uberbucket: The Tesla production issue is difficulty with the two-speed transmission. They’re shipping now with a one-speed, I think, to be replaced with the finalized two-speed.

    Of course, electric cars just shift the pollution burden onto the power plant that creates the electricity…which sometimes is better, sometimes is worse, depending on the power plant.

  120. Toof_75_75 says:

    @InfiniTrent:
    Exactly. While the car might not have any emissions, the power plants will have to deal with a HUGE increase in demand if these cars were to become the norm. Unless this silly government of ours lets us start making some more nuclear power plants, the current plants are going to have a hell of a time dealing with the increased demand.

  121. beboptheflop says:

    @bobfromboston: Your arguement is just as simplistic, to assume that the price of oil is what soley drives the economy is narrow minded in your thinking. One of the major contributors to what drives your cost at the market is the largest employer in this country and that’s Walmart. Lower wages, high insurance costs, cheap, worthless merchandise. Now don’t get me started on that.

  122. uberbucket says:

    @InfiniTrent:
    I live in Oregon which gets most of it’s electricity through renewable sources,(e.g. wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass.) An automobile like the Tesla or any other full electric vehicle is very appealing, yet sadly currently cost prohibitive.

    I only drive my ’66 VW,(which still gets 27 mpg) when I have to, which is very little.

  123. katekate says:

    @trk182: It’s not like these are pay at the pump gas stations; it might be a serious deterrent for people if they have to go inside the shop to pay for their gas twice, which sucks for the station owners.

  124. Toof_75_75 says:

    @uberbucket:
    I’m a little surprised Tesla didn’t consider utilizing some solar option as well. Just to add a power source.

  125. katekate says:

    @Toof_75_75: Please tell me a good reason not to use public transit when it’s available and feasible.

  126. I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with the gas prices, if only the money spent was profiting mostly American individuals. Instead, the profits are spent creating cities like Dubai; very little of the money sees it’s way back to the United States.

  127. uberbucket says:

    I’ve read that it only costs about 1 cent per mile to charge up the Tesla battery. I’m trying to find hard numbers like amp draw and whatnot. Just to see what kind of potential load a ton of electric cars would be putting on the electrical grid in the middle of the night,(when most of these would be charging.

    Is it worse that leaving your 60″ HDTV on all day?

  128. RhymePhile says:

    As sickenly exorbitant as the price of gas is lately, I can only hope it will have *some* positive effect; that is, keeping annoying tourists from innundating my Jersey Shore town this summer. Oh please.

  129. consumerd says:

    @Greeper:

    …”The oil companies get most of the money….” is patently untrue and even laughable. The economics of selling gas is very complicated, but that statement demonstrates a pretty wholesale lack of any understanding of the issue, and plays into the whiny culture of consume-and-complain that is at the root of the real problem. (Disclosure: I do work for an oil company, but no, I’m not a shill for them and am a frequent commenter on many topics here).

    Sounds like something the oil companies would want you to think. While they rake in the better part of $6.00/gallon.

    it’s getting to the point where filling up a toyota prius is going to cost $50 a fill up.

  130. backbroken says:

    @katekate: Ah, but that’s the rub now isn’t it? Available and feasible it is not. At least for me. Or do you think I like sitting in traffic?

  131. bobfromboston says:

    @RhymePhile: I’m afraid the opposite could be true. People will likely be doing shorter, car-based trips rather than flying to expensive destinations (given airfares).

    Regrettably, you could be in for a long summer.

  132. lostalaska says:

    How many other organizations besides OPEC can refer to themselves as a “cartel”?

    Cartel: a combination of independent commercial or industrial enterprises designed to limit competition or fix prices.

  133. bobfromboston says:

    Regardless of the relative profit margins of the oil companies, the point of the original post is true: Between the oil companies, the refineries, the distributors, etc., the individual gas-station owners do indeed make a very small profit on gasoline alone. That’s why almost all of them are convenience stores that also sell gas. The margins on beer, soda, coffee and cigarettes are much better.

  134. vdragonmpc says:

    Please oil companies act all innocent every year. Every year in the Spring gas jumps as a ‘month long’ changeover happens at the plants. Funny the gas is the same in the tanks as it was Monday but it is more expensive Friday.

    Oddly when prices begin to fall there is a refinery accident and gas jumps 20-30 cents. I personally love when they say some arab country had an event and gas goes up and the event had nothing to do with oil.

    Again why ethanol? It kills the mpg on cars and harms components. Dont think so? Leave some gas in your weedeater over the winter. It wont be nice. Same with the ol mower. I have been replacing fuel lines this year on a lot of things.

    Bottom line is the Oil producers have manipulated the price and then got caught and proven ineffective when other ‘investors’ got involved. Now we have Opec screwing us, the 3 oil companies taking a turn, investors ramming it in and then you you cry for mercy some politicians rub a little salt in and ream you out but good and have the pleasure of claiming that it only hurts when you sit down.

  135. stinerman says:

    @Bladefist:

    Hey, you’re the one who loves the free markets.

    And if this was a speculative bubble, private stocks of oil would be growing. They aren’t. Everyone is using everything they’re buying.

  136. Crymson_77 says:

    @uberbucket: You are correct on the 1 cent per mile. Even less if you offset the cost by installing solar panels on your house to minimize your usage of fossil fuels. Not to mention the benefit of dumping energy back into the grid when you aren’t using it, which means money back to you from the electric company that you are connected to. Also, if everyone installed solar panels on their houses, most of our heating oil infrastructure would go fallow due to lack of need of fossil fuel based energy generation. The main problem with solar panels is that they are still somewhat cost prohibitive, but that is being worked on from several fronts. I mean really, what is more plentiful than the sun for an energy resource?

  137. Crymson_77 says:

    @bobfromboston: That is all too correct. All the gasoline is is a means to get you into the store.

  138. Bladefist says:

    @stinerman: You lost me. You’re saying the stock prices of oil, have not gone up with their profits?

  139. meadandale says:

    OMG, call the Whaaaambulance for these poor gas station owners that can’t charge more than $4/gallon for gas…

  140. Crymson_77 says:

    @meadandale: Of course, you aren’t taking into account that the gas companies are charging the small station owners $3.50 a gallon or more…

  141. buzzybee says:

    @Toof_75_75: Oil company may get most of the money, but I’m sure these gas stations take a nice percentage too.

    I don’t feel too sorry for them.

  142. biskits says:

    @buzzybee:
    No, you’re taking aim at the wrong target. The gas stations are still making a few cents per gallon – leaving the oil companies to take the lion’s share of the profits: [money.cnn.com] The proprietors are making roughly the same percentage as before, but with higher operating costs. Blame Big Oil, not some guy trying to make a living while dealing with irate customers.

  143. Squeezer99 says:

    actually, the fed and state governments get most of the profit

  144. 00exmachina says:

    @beboptheflop: Your comparison fails on the point of the scope of the issue.

    The price of milk affects the cost of only milk based items.

    The price of gas affects the price of all consumer items, and the price to commute.
    That includes milk.
    Gas pricess going up increases shipping costs, which increases food costs. Which most would generally regard as a ‘bad’ thing.

  145. karlmarx says:

    If we want to beat the big corporations price gouging we should be buying from the mom and pop gas stations.

  146. meadandale says:

    @Crymson_77:

    Actually, it’s the refineries not the oil companies.

    And, the gas station I drove by the other day that was charging $4.25/gallon (which was up to 0.40 more per gallon than other stations within 3 blocks) apparently wasn’t having issues with HIS pumps….What was amazing to me was the people fueling up there instead of driving another block. That’s some serious (Chevron) brand loyalty.

  147. biskits says:

    @meadandale:
    That may be, but since the mega-corps own & operate their own refineries, the profits end up in their pockets either way. The New York Times published an article today showing that independent refineries are actually reporting declining profits, due to the escalating prices of crude [www.nytimes.com] The big oil companies, however, will continue to generate huge revenues as long as prices stay this high. For instance: Exxon’s 1st quarter reporting of nearly $11 billion was up 17% compared to last year. They’re swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck.

  148. Old News.

    Back a few years ago it was the problem with old pumps that did not go above $3.

    Before that it was $2 pumps.

    Ask my Mom & Dad and they will tell stories about $1 pumps.

    And it ain’t just the pumps.

    Both gas stations near my home just had to buy new signs in the past year. Seems the first number was a fixed, embedded in the sign (#2). No way to change the number, when and if they had to change the first digit.

  149. karmaghost says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….

  150. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @winstonthorne:

    WRONG! We benefit from high gas prices! How? Supply and motherfucking Demand! If gas was uber cheap, people wouldn’t conserve as much, we’d have shortages, and you’d see those long ass lines like in those photos

    [farm2.static.flickr.com]

    That’s also why Billary’s gas tax cut is a moronic idea, at best. Oil companies would be happy to jack the price back up to the same cost-at-pump to curtail demand.

  151. bms says:

    Honestly this is just poor planning on their part. Should have bought pumps with 1-9 instead of 1-3.

  152. winstonthorne says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: Yo Adam Smith – I’m at 1/2 tank; since you love high gas prices so much, will you kindly fill me up? Oh, and by the way, “supply and mother —- demand” doesn’t work particularly well when you’ve got OPEC and political wankers raising prices based on “future” issues.

    I never once mentioned the idiotic gas tax cut.

    Since you’re such a great freemarket capitalist, why don’t you scratch my ass with that invisible hand of yours, you ugly little troll.

  153. Toof_75_75 says:

    @katekate:
    I don’t have a good reason. I have no interest in using it. I like driving.

  154. Toof_75_75 says:

    @buzzybee:
    No, really, they don’t. The gas stations, as mentioned before, do not make their money on gasoline sales. They are generally +/- $0.03 from even per gallon.

  155. Greeper says:

    @meadandale: “Actually, it’s the refineries not the oil companies”

    Actually, Refineries do worse when prices are high, because they are so dependent on crude. When you hear about refining margins, they are referring to the difference between the price of crude and the cost to refine it. (Im oversimplifying).

    THe profit really goes to the producers, which is why blaming gas stations makes no sense — especially when most majors are getting out or are out of consumer marketing of gasoline.

  156. barty says:

    @winstonthorne: They are making record NET profits. CNN and other leftist media sources conveniently leave out how much revenue it took to generate that profit so someone can actually calculate a profit MARGIN.

    It is more sensationalist for them to print/broadcast “Oil Companies make a record $40 billion profit!” instead of, “Oil Companies make $40 billion on $450 billion in sales”

    Greeper…I agree with your statements wholeheartedly. If there is so much collusion in the market to drive up the price of oil from the oil companies…show us the proof! Vague conspiracy theories or blogs from anti-capitalist nutjobs don’t count.

    Our oil prices are high due to weakness in the dollar, thanks in part to the Fed dropping the bottom out of interest rates over the past 8-9 years (this is not a new trend, btw) and investors hedging (and over-speculating) their other investments on energy. Throw in a cartel run by a bunch of terrorists, 3rd world despots and dictators (OPEC) having their hand on a large amount of the world’s oil supply, and you have a recipe for high oil prices.

  157. tordus says:

    What if the oil company owned cstores,enough to pump 60 percent of the gas they make. Now lets just say they make enough off of the cig and soda and lottery to pay for the stores and employees. If so they can control the price at the wholesale and at the pump driving private owners out of busness. So profets for the oil companys are up as much as 300percent since 2000 is not accidental.

  158. @trk182: Ever been on a long road trip through some backwoods towns? A lot of these small towns have gas stations that are the only ones around for miles, and they are still using these pumps because they can’t afford new ones or can’t get new ones.

  159. readyfreddy says:

    The answer is simple:

    Sell the gas by the half gallon. This is perfectly legal as long as you post it on the pump.