If you’re pulling in to a gas station in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, don’t start filling up until you check the price: Over 50 franchise owners of Lukoil stations have hiked prices up to $9.99 to protest what they call unfair pricing by the Russian-owned oil company. At issue is how Lukoil sells its gasoline to stations that are near each other for different prices, which causes customers to choose, of course, the cheapest gas.
The New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association says Lukoil’s “zone pricing” tactic can result in price variances of up to 25 cents per gallon, making it tough for franchisees to compete with cheaper prices elsewhere, reports NBC News.
“I feel they have been gouging us,” said one franchise owner in Mount Laurel, N.J. He and his colleagues say they’ve been begging the company to lower prices. “We are not looking to get rich. I am trying to survive.”
Lukoil says it’s not doing a thing wrong, calling zone pricing a “commercially reasonable practice used by gasoline marketers for many years, which is fully compliant with New Jersey statutes.”
Fuel sales might not be where all the profits stem from, but what do you do after you’ve filled up your tank? Maybe wander into the store and grab some Slim Jims and a Diet Cherry Coke/root beer/Sprite/iced tea combo drink.
The protest will only last 24 hours (which means it should end today), but there could be other similar actions if Lukoil doesn’t meet the demands of the station owners group.