$1.00/Gallon Gas Causes Rush On Texas Filling Station

When an online retailer makes a pricing error, it usually has a chance to cancel orders before they ship. But when a gas station accidentally sells fuel for nearly 75% off the retail price, oodles of drivers will line up to fill up before someone fixes the mistake.

And that’s exactly what happened at a Conoco station in Texas last night, where a glitch led to gas being sold at only $1.00/gallon.

According to KTRK-TV, news of the discount fuel got out quickly and was even being spread among local folks on Facebook. A clerk at the store told reporters that the station actually ran out of gas.

We don’t quite know how that happens without someone at the station catching on and turning customers away. After all, having no gasoline sales for a few overnight hours is better than taking a mammoth loss.

Yesterday, AAA announced a small dip in the national average for gas price. But overnight, the Energy Information Administration’s numbers for the week ending April 9 showed virtually no change from the previous week. Both organizations show the national average at more than $3.90/gallon.

Computer glitch leads to $1/gallon gas in Pasadena [KTRK via fuelfix]

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  1. do-it-myself says:

    Now why is no one stupid enough to do that here?!

  2. Cat says:

    Last time I paid under a dollar a gallon, December, 2001: New Jersey, they pumped it for me and cleaned my windshield.

    #progress.

    • nishioka says:

      Then we went to war in Iraq and the people there showered us with oil for helping liberate them!

    • voogru says:

      That’s actually the min. wage laws.

      See, it’s illegal for gas station owners to hire 16 year olds and pay them what their market value (which is lower than the min. wage).

      Not only that, but during the time when the 16 year old wasn’t filling up cars, he’d probably be learning stuff from the nearby mechanic and probably eventually become a mechanic himself making decent money. So they‚Äôd make a little money AND get some education which they could use to make more money in the future.

      But at least now we protect young workers from ‘exploitive’ wages. So instead of making a low wage and probably learning stuff, they make no wage at all and they can’t be hired for most jobs because their skills aren’t worth the min. wage. So in order to advance their skills, they need to get a large student loan that they’ll be paying off for the rest of their lives, but that’s for later.

      Right now those 16 year olds busy out putting dog shit in a bag by your door, and setting it on fire instead.

      #progress.

      • chargernj says:

        Hmm, back in the early 90’s I was one of those overpaid (according to you that is) teenaged gas station attendants. I made just over minimum wage and I lived in NJ. The law here requires full-service, all that stuff you said isn’t relevant to the point here.

        • voogru says:

          NJ is an exception to the rule because it’s mandated. There’s a reason why you don’t see it anywhere else except where it’s mandated.

      • Lt. Coke says:

        ‘Probably’ be learning stuff. What the fuck? Are you seriously suggesting that 16 year olds should be paid less for doing the same work an adult can do? And that this is okay because they “probably” would learn stuff from a nearby mechanic?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      You’re welcome. I also offered to check your oil

  3. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    I feel bad for humanity as a whole. This type of action really shows people’s true colors.

    “Hey, there must be some kinda error going on here, but boy-oh-boy, I’m getting real cheap gas. Let’s go tell everyone we know, so they can come out here and take advantage of the businessman, and take a month or two worth of food off their dinner table.”

    Humanity: FAIL

    • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

      Hey Junior, why don’t you get on that Facenet thing or that twittle and tell everyone! Maybe we can even put this guy out of business! Yee haw!

    • Raider Duck says:

      Fail, schmail. If someone’s offering $1/gallon gas, I couldn’t care less why they’re charging that little. Not my problem.

      Fill ‘er up.

      • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

        They weren’t offering it. There was an obvious error, People were taking it, but they didn’t “offer” it.

        • Raider Duck says:

          Yes, it was an offer. The price was clearly listed on the pumps. No hacking or other chicanery had occurred. The business was freely accepting the specified amount of money for the specified amount of product.

          As consumers, it is simply not our concern whether someone has set a price that guarantees them profit. That’s their problem, not ours.

          • Hi_Hello says:

            as a consumer I think people should info the retailer when the price doesn’t show up as the price listed. it doesn’t matter if the price is in favor of the retailer or the consumer.

            The big sign clearly has the gas for $3.xx.

          • Jer in Denver says:

            Congratulations. You made the OP’s point nicely.

            Who cares if it’s a small business being taken advantage of.
            Who cares if $5000 vanishes from the proprietor’s pocket.
            Who cares if he has to lay people off.

            Screw him and his company, it’s all about me.

            Thank you for making the guy’s point, and showing that all to many people do not have a shred of common decency. :)

            • Raider Duck says:

              So whenever you see anything on sale, I expect that you go to the manager and ask him/her if this is legitimate. Whenever you walk into a restaurant and see a special, does this mean you immediately ask to see the owner and point out that special, just to make sure they’re not losing money?

              If you see a coupon online, do you write the manufacturer at once in case they’re going to go broke

              • Jawaka says:

                It depends on the item and the price. If I saw a television for sale in a store with a big sign over it advertising it as being 50% off then I probably wouldn’t think twice about it.

                However a small independently owned gas station station selling gas as $1 a gallon when gas prices have been surging over $4 a gallon lately. And no signs announcing the special sale? Yeah, I’d probably assume that it was an error and ask the person inside.

                Besides, how many gas sales do you generally come across?

              • elangomatt says:

                Things being on sale and a “special” at a restaurant are completely different from this. Sales are discounted by maybe 5% to maybe as much as 50% off. There is no way that I can believe that anyone would ever intend to put an 80% discount on something unless they were running some big promotion. More so since gas prices are usually very similar across an entire area. You can bet that I’d go in and confirm that the price of a gallon of gas is supposed to be $1, especially since the sign by the road says it is $4.

              • Theoncomingstorm says:

                Apples and oranges, if I see a price that is too good to be true, yeah, I ask. What these folks did by filling their tanks was nothing short of theft.

              • Bradmac says:

                On sale?!? You think a gas station owner can put gas on sale for $1 a gallon?

                Of course you don’t. You would know it was an obvious mistake. The only question is, would you be a decent human being and bring it to the attention of the store owner, or would you steal from him.

            • PercussionQueen7 says:

              That’s what my generation is about – me, me, me, and eff you if you don’t get yours.

              Have some morals, folks. If you knew the sign outside said $3.xx/gal and you took advantage of what was obviously an error, then you’re essentially stealing from the station. Good job being a thief.

          • Jawaka says:

            Yes, the price was clearly posted on the pump.

            It was still an error.

    • qwickone says:

      This is America, where it’s every man for himself. If you want people to care about each other, move to Europe you Socialist! /s

      • Raider Duck says:

        These are the same gas station owners that, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, jacked the price up 10 cents/gallon before sunrise the next day, even though the more expensive gas wasn’t here for months?

        Just checking.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          It is called basic economics. Gas prices aren’t decided solely on what the station owner pays for the gas, but what the cost of his next tank is going to cost.
          You can spin your wheels all day long justifying your me first, screw everyone else attitude.
          The simple morality of the situation is that any reasonable consumer knows that the gas cost the station owner much more than $1.00 per gallon and that anyone who fills up at that price is knowingly taking advantage of an obvious error regardless of who it hurts.

          • Ryno23 says:

            If I see that price advertised on the pumps, I’m going to fill my vehicle with it first, care about why it was priced that way later…or never.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      The problem is that people think BP, Mobil, etc. own the gas stations.
      If that were true, I wouldn’t have any problem lining up to cost them money.

    • Jawaka says:

      While I agree with you at least it was Costco. Its not like they’re going to go broke over this.

    • Tacojelly says:

      If this were me I would have told an attendant… after filling my tank.

      • Bent Rooney says:

        There is no possible way that the attendant did not know what was going on.

        “Gee, I wonder why there’s a line of cars out there 16 miles long?? DUH?

      • maxamus2 says:

        You’re even a lower form of low, you want yours but you do not anyone else to get something.

        • Rena says:

          Dunno, which is worse? Taking advantage of the error and not telling them about it at all? (And maybe add to that, telling everyone else so they can take advantage too?) Or taking advantage, but informing them so they can do something and not lose even more?

          Neither is the nicest thing to do, but better at least to warn them than to not say anything, perhaps?

    • kyramidx3 says:

      I’m sorry, where was this memo that I apparently missed, that said we were now defending huge, evil gas & oil companies?

      • impatientgirl says:

        The “big evil” gas companies usually dont own those pumps and stations, they’re usually privately owned and just franchise to the gas supplier.

    • Boehme417 says:

      Get a grip. There are actually gas stations in my area that will run “promos” like this. A radio station will come out, and the gas station will sell gas for like $1/gal for a few hours. If I had seen this, I would think it’s a stunt by the gas station.

    • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

      Humanity isn’t a hard set of rules you follow. It’s called survival and if it means going and taking a dip in dollar a gallon gas……so be it.

  4. josephbloseph says:

    Here’s how the employees don’t catch on: in most cases, the employees don’t interact with the customers or the pumps. My question is how do enough customers come through to cause the station to run out of gas without a single one of them being honest enough to point out the mistake to the employees.

    • Thomas Palmer says:

      A good employee should look out the window every now and then to make sure everything is alright. A smart employee will notice a lot more people than usual and wonder what’s going on.

      • kc2idf says:

        A good employee is a rare thing in any kind of retail. They cost money. Teenagers that don’t give a crap about the work are much cheaper until something like this happens.

        • Tacojelly says:

          A good employee in retail is usually someone new to the company. After a year or so without worthwhile raises or opportunities will change even the best of us.

        • Raider Duck says:

          I remember a Baskin-Robbins shop we used to frequent had a new teenage employee who, before he left his first night, thought he was supposed to unplug the freezers.

          Oops.

    • Cicadymn says:

      You get what you pay for. If you pay for minimum wage that’s enough for people to keep their heads down and do exactly what they’re told to do. My guess is they weren’t taught or instructed on how to handle a situation like that, so they didn’t.

    • Jawaka says:

      Thank you come again.

    • shepd says:

      Many systems (well, all I’ve seen in this area–the last fully manual pumps here died off last year) require interaction from the employee to turn the pump on, even if the buyer is paying at the pump with a credit card. No button pushy, no gas dispensy. They also show all the totals on every pump, and can permit you to “hold” a total in case you end up with a customer who doesn’t pay–not for evidence, but so they can come back and pay. Only had that happen once and I made him leave his friend’s wallet with me along with a copy of his D/L on which I wrote down his plate number and the amount owed.

      He did come back the next day a few hours before my next shift. I guess his friend wanted his stuff back and probably told him that I was serious about calling the cops if I went to work tomorrow and he hadn’t paid.

      It would take some concerted effort not to notice all the totals being ridiculously low.

    • longdvsn says:

      It looks like it was an overnight event…I’ve been to gas stations that are open overnight without an employee present (pay at the pump only).

  5. Guppy06 says:

    “We don’t quite know how that happens without someone at the station catching on and turning customers away.”

    Minimum wage. You get what you pay for.

    • voogru says:

      Because if the employer paid the employee higher wages, this would have been prevented!!!!

      Yeah right.

      • rushevents says:

        I bet if the station manager had been there (higher paid) they would have noticed the long lines and shut down the pumps and fixed the error.

        Just my bet.

        Btw – I would have fired any employee – highly paid or not, who didn’t notice long lines and a rush on gas for no particular reason and didn’t shut off the pumps or at least called a manager to see what to do.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        You’re looking at it from the wrong angle. Offering higher wages tends to attract more competent workers. Paying idiots higher wages will not make them better employees.

  6. Anathema777 says:

    “We don’t quite know how that happens without someone at the station catching on and turning customers away. After all, having no gasoline sales for a few overnight hours is better than taking a mammoth loss.”

    From other articles on this topic, it sounds like the station wasn’t staffed when this happened. A lot of gas stations will close down at night but leave the pumps running so that people can still fill up (it’s just credit/debit only during that time.)

    • MattAlbie says:

      An overnight employee may very well have not known how to make the change themselves and probably couldn’t get anyone on the phone. They basically get paid to sit around (in this area, behind bullet-proof glass) and talk on the phone or watch movies on their laptop all night and make sure the place doesn’t burn down. They always seem to put the dumbest person on overnight shift because they’re not expecting many problems/much traffic.

    • shepd says:

      I’m surprised there is anywhere in North America willing to take on the legal liability of not having personnel, never mind trained personnel to shut down the pumps should something “bad” happen. I know when I worked at a gas station for a short stint I was required to spend a day answering really stupid questions about gas and being shown where all the safety stuff was, and then another day I had to prove I was fully informed on how to shut off the pumps and clean up spills.

      Knowing how cheap the station was, they would NEVER have done that if a lawyer hadn’t advised them not doing it would make them lose a business license/face fines or some other important paper.

      • Anathema777 says:

        A station near my house still has someone there at night, but their responsibilities are different from a daytime staffer. Mostly they’re security, just around to make sure there’s no damage to the station (from vandalism or a fire). They don’t generally have the ability to make the “shut down the station” decision in a case like this.

      • Jay911 says:

        In the late 1990s I worked at a gas station when the card readers in the dispensers (pumps) first started coming out, and the corporation got the idea to try to run the place unattended at night. The “attendance” or monitoring issue was covered by having the security cameras slaved to a bigger, 24 hour station elsewhere in town, and they would supposedly watch for any problems. Did a fantastic job, of course – judging by how many times I came in in the morning to find pumps damaged or just left off-the-hook (not flowing) by people who couldn’t figure out they had to put a card in to get gas.

        As for crazy cheap gas, I also had this happen to me in the same station as the above story. Gas at the time was in the neighborhood of 98c/gal (if you take into consideration conversion from liters to gallons and the difference between the US$ and CAN$ at the time). One day all the other stations in town raised to ~$1.17/gal (and all the stations change at the same time, instructed to do so by head office, so don’t tell me there isn’t collusion). The corporation that ran the station I worked at forgot to call us and order the price changed. I knew the station (one staffer – me) was ridiculously busy, but I didn’t figure out why until somebody told me that the other stations nearby (out of my sight lines) were almost 25c more expensive. We sold almost all of the gas we had on hand – probably 3 or 4 times what we would have expected to sell that day normally.

        The important part to note is that the company had people (and later a “robot”) phoning out from head office to tell stations to set the prices. Individual stations have no control over what they charge or when they change it to that price.

  7. almightytora says:

    At 00:52 in the video, the reporter mistakenly said “a dollar and a penny”. It was actually a dollar and a tenth of a penny.

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    It’s a bait and switch! People show up for the $1.00 per gallon gas, but it’s “sold out”, so they are sold tree shaped air fresheners instead!

  9. Hi_Hello says:

    if these are credit card transaction, couldn’t they charge people the correct price later?

    • Raider Duck says:

      That would be theft. Imagine if you paid $50 at a restaurant and then a couple of days later, the restaurant decided you didn’t pay enough and threw another charge on there. I doubt you’d be too happy.

      Bottom line is that an offer of X amount of money for X amount of product was made and accepted. One of the parties doesn’t get to changing the terms after the transaction.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        but if the restaurant accidentally charge $5 and the next day charge $45, I don’t see a problem.

        • Raider Duck says:

          Two different situations: If the restaurant had stated the item was $50 but only charged $5, then yes, another $45 charge would be appropriate.

          But that’s not what happened here. This the restaurant stating something is $5, you buying it on that basis, then their deciding the next day they charged you too little and sticking you with another $45 charge.

          • Hi_Hello says:

            I think this is where you got confused.

            basically the restaurant is stating it’s $50 at one place and $5 at another place.

            The gas station has the price listed (check the video) at $3 something on the big sign, but also have the price list as 1.00 on the pump.

            Two different prices were listed.

            Either way, I was just wondering, can Credit card company can ‘fix’ this mistake, if there were some legal order saying it’s okay for them to do it. They have all the records and I assume nobody paid with cash.

            • Lyn Torden says:

              I never look at the signs. I always look at the pump, as that is what they are ACTUALLY going to charge. I’ve seen them different, many times, though not as much as in this case.

            • jebarringer says:

              I think this is where you got confused. You think the “big sign” actually means something. In truth, the big sign is just advertisement – you pay what the pump says. When someone purchased gas at this station, they entered into a binding contract with the station to pay the displayed price on the pump per gallon of gas.

  10. Mastodon says:

    Oh wow this brings back memories since I went through this when I was working at a gas station years ago (except it was due to my own screw up rather than a glitch).

    One night in 2006 my manager called to tell me to change the price to something like $2.79 (or whatever the price was at the time). With the crappy registers we had, you would change the price by entering “2799” to represent $2.799. Not paying attention, I only entered “279”, which made the price .279.

    I realized what happened an hour or so later when the station was insanely busy, with lines forming at every pump. Luckily my manager just shrugged it off when I called her to tell her what happened. I have no idea how I didn’t get fired, but I guess I am lucky it didn’t make the news.

    • Rena says:

      I saw the opposite happen at my job at the supermarket. Someone had entered something like 12.22 instead of 1.22 for a package of instant soup. I didn’t notice until I’d rung up 24 of them and a couple other small items for someone… “OK, your total is $297… wait, what?”

  11. shepd says:

    Just bought propane from my car last week for $2.22 a gallon. Suckers! :D

    • MrEvil says:

      Dang that’s cheap for LPG. My dad got charged $3.25/gal for 100 pounds on Friday.

      • shepd says:

        Yeah, propane prices in the US seem to change rather regularly, but are generally high in comparison with what I usually get.

        It certainly made me happy, as it made my road trip cheaper. I just checked and the station is now back to about $3.30 a gallon. Oh well. Too bad you can’t get Canada’s prices on the stuff. I pay about $2.50 a gallon at home. And I don’t get the weird questions/requests at the station:

        – “Take the tank out” Hmmm… you have some air tools?
        – “You mean for an RV?” No, not really, I’m not cooking in the car. Although it seems RVs use the same connector
        – My favourite “You can’t run a car on propane.” Huh. Could have fooled me.
        – “Stand back!” Dude, really? The only thing dangerous about filling the car is how scared you are and the old ass equipment you’re using–I bet you’re going to open the spit valve with the pump running like all the other noobs.
        – “Hmmm, we don’t sell car propane any cheaper, in fact, it’s more expensive.” That doesn’t make much sense, at least in the US where you get 50 cents per gallon purchased from the government. Also, why would you charge me more per gallon when I am basically 6 BBQ customers in one? If anything normal stores discount for bulk purchases
        – “How much do you need / how do you know when it is full / You really want 25 gallons? That seems like too much…” I guess I can forgive this one as it can differ, but not much anymore. You know it’s full when the pump run slow/stops because the regulator on the tank will put backpressure on the feed.

        • Hi_Hello says:

          the part is pretty neat. I always thought the weigh the tank when they are filling it up. the one use for bbq.

    • Raider Duck says:

      What kind of miles per fill-up do you get from propane, and how much more did the vehicle cost?

      • shepd says:

        It’s a rather dumpy car, but here’s what I got and what I paid (bought it last November):

        – 2006 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (former State Trooper vehicle and former taxi)
        – 180,000 miles
        – Propane conversion already done, unfortunately it’s an older system (carbureted, or in propane car lingo, fumigated) so it’s less great than it could be
        – Required new brake pads on the front to pass inspection, $200
        – Paid $2,900

        In my opinion, the car would have sold for that whether or not it had propane installed, although I was specifically in the market for a large vehicle that was cheap to run (an impossibility until you do something crazy like this).

        Cost to install propane varies wildly based on local regulation. Regulation in Ontario (Don’t worry, the propane price was actually for a U-Haul in Utica I ended up at on the way to PAX) is the strictest in North America, so here an 8-cyliner car costs about $5,000 to convert. 4-cylinder is about $3,000 and that’s for a fuel injected system. Fumigated systems are rare now and I wouldn’t reccomend them for the same reasons I wouldn’t recommend a carbureted gasoline car.

        If you are permitted to do it yourself, you will pay about $800 in equipment (a little less for fewer cylinders) and a wildly varying amount for the tank (because regulation can make the requirements for the tanks be as crazy as mine–it can withstand bullets from most all handguns, even some lower power rifles). Tanks here are about $2,000 new, but used could be had for $500 or less, way less if you can find them in a junkyard. Of course, used tanks will need to be certified, but that’s not much compared to the new cost. I’d estimate the labour at about 10 hours in an experienced shop, perhaps less, depending on the vehicle.

        In Canada I pay $2.50 a gallon (well, 64.9 cents a litre). I could pay about 10 cents less if I drove 10 minutes to another station but I like where I go. :) Gasoline here is now $5.10 a gallon, so it’s a great deal.

        Propane in the US is a bit difficult to get, though. Not as many places, and most of them, even propane suppliers, think you’re from mars. But almost all U-Hauls that fill BBQ tanks actually do have the adapters to fill a car, and car propane is always less. But propane is about $3.30 – $3.50 in many places in the northeastern US. I bet if you discussed it with a local propane company, though, you might just be able to coax much better rates out of them, but there is definitely a HUGE profit margin at that price, and you would basically become their biggest customer that isn’t using it to heat a home.

        Where I live (population about 250,000) there’s about 6 stations, and their hours are usually about 8am – 8pm, although one is open until 10 pm. It’s not a big deal to run out of propane unless you had them rip out the gas tank–most propane installations leave gasoline as an option that you simply flick a switch for (advanced ones do it automatically while you are driving).

        Wow, this is getting big. Well, if you still care, my 100 litre tank (which fills the spare tire shelf, which is admittedly very large in a crown vic) gets me about 550 km before the gas light comes on the dash. I could probably get 600 km before the tank is run dry. In US units, 26.4 gallons goes 373 miles. Which is 14 mpg. It sounds horrible, but compared to a carbeurated crown vic (apples to apples) it’s on par–the 1991 crown vic got 14 mpg combined, although it did have a larger engine (the rest of the car hasn’t really changed much over the years, to be honest). From what I’ve read, fumigated propane gets about 30% less fuel efficiency than fuel injected gas, and injected propane gets about 15% reduced efficiency. It will always be at least 10% less efficient, due to the reduced energy content.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Hank Hill? Is that you?

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Oh I miss $1.00 a gallon gas. I wish it would come back.

  13. gman863 says:

    Was this really an “accident”?

    Over the past few years in Houston (which includes Pasadena), there have been several balls-out gas wars — many of which made headlines (including live helicopter coverage of the traffic jams) on local TV stations.

    Gas station loses $7000-$8000 on “mistake” but gets viral publicity of Facebook and on Houston’s #1 TV news station. Assuming the quickie mart had purchased a :30 second commercial in place of every time the story ran in the past 24 hours, they would have spent at least this much (keep in mind the TV ad prices are based on the fact Houston is the 4th largest TV market in the US).

    For at least the next week, every idiot on the east side of Houston will be visiting and buying gas at that quickie mart hoping the “mistake” reappears.

  14. sj_user1 says:

    Anyone with a shred of decency and morality would have pointed out the mistake instead of taking advantage of it. I usually side with the consumer over the big companies but as a whole neither is better than the other. Each side is just as willing to screw the other. Now someone will probably loose their job and it won’t be a fat cat oil executive. It will be a working class schmuck who made a simple mistake. I hope the few bucks you saved on gas was worth it. Yay capitalism and the free market!