Gas Station Owners Protest Lukoil Price Discrepancies By Ratcheting Fuel Up To $9.99 Per Gallon

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.

Gas prices hit $9.99 in protest by station owners [NBC News]

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    Who are we to argue Putin’s desire to become one of the richest men in the world?

  2. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    Because NJ is one of the Nanny States that doesn’t trust people to pump their own gas, there is very little incentive to leave the vehicle to go buy anything inside the store, so those stations can’t even fall back on that.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      Lol. Good point.

      There are just two of those states, I believe. New Jersey and Oregon (I think).

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        Some of us Oregonians look at filling our own tanks as a novelty when we travel to Washington. Kind of like a flammable slot machine!

        • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

          What’s funny, or sad, is that this is supposedly done in the name of safety, yet the attendants who are supposed to be monitoring the dispensing of the gas aren’t at your car, they are at the next car that just pulled in.

          Someone pumping their own gas would actually be at the pump to keep an eye on things.

          This is just as much about safety as red-light cameras are.

          • Necoras says:

            I rarely stay at my car while it’s pumping. I set it up to pump, go inside and get myself a donut, and then when I come back it’s time to go.

            • cactus jack says:

              You aren’t supposed to do that.

            • ajaxd says:

              That’s a really bad idea. What happens, particularly in colder months, is that once in the car you get a buildup static electricity. When you come out to disengage the pump you might cause a spark with fiery results. People have been injured like this.

              • Martha Gail says:

                Myth Busters debunked that a few years ago. Also, he said he goes in the store for a donut, not in the car.

                • MarkFL says:

                  Actually they debunked the story about cellphones causing the static electricity spark. They said what is more likely is that if you get into your car while the pump is running, it could buildup static electricity which is discharged when you touch the pump. If I recall, they suggested that when you get out of your car, you should touch something metal on your car before you touch the pump.

            • Xboxer says:

              You are lucky. Here in the New England you can’t leave your car while pumping your gas because they removed all devices that let the gas pump while you walk away. I think it’s more of a safety hazard to stand there at the pump breathing in the fumes.

              When I was in California I saw a lady attempt to drive off with the nozzle still in her gas tank. The nozzle released because of a quick release safety mechanism. It was funny as hell watching her start to drive away with the nozzle still in her gas tank though. She had no clue.

              • Oh_No84 says:

                They did that in Canada. Luckily the gas cap fits perfectly under the handle so you can keep it on and it will still click off when full.

              • HeadlessCow says:

                New Hampshire still has pumps with the handle latch. It’s the number one reason why I don’t fill up at the closest (and cheapest) gas station to where i live because it’s just over the border into Mass.

          • MuleHeadJoe says:

            Safety? Really?

            I’m from California, so I haven’t seen “full service” gas stations since the 80′s, but the ‘no-self-serve-allowed’ policy in other states has alwasy been explained to me to be one of creating jobs, and never had anything to do with safety at all.

            Seriously, think about it: one of the most heavily regulated nanny states in the Union, California, doesn’t think that selve-serve gasoline is a safety risk. Well, that kinda puts the kibosh on that argument if you asks me. :-)

        • momoftwokids says:

          Whereas we Washingtonians think it is kind of cool to be ‘waited on’ when we gas up in Oregon.

          • YouDidWhatNow? says:

            Or not…when I accidentally find myself at a “full service” gas station I’m like “get the f%ck away from my car.”

        • mharris127 says:

          I wish we had full-service gas stations here (in Michigan). The last one closed in my area about five years ago. Pumping gas isn’t that hard but when you have gout in a foot and a bad back full-service gas stations come in pretty handy. It was worth the 20-30 cents a gallon that was charged for the service IMO.

    • Cerne says:

      Those laws still exist?

      • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

        Yes, sadly. And every time someone in any kind of position of power starts talking about introducing even just limited self-serve, the hue and cry from the masses is predictable and hysterical.

        I hate having to sit around waiting for the pump jockey to finally get to my car to start pumping, then come back 5 minutes after it’s done to run my card, then come back another 3 or 4 minutes after that with the receipt.

        I love going to PA or upstate NY where I can pull in, pump, pay and get out in less time than I’d spend waiting to start the whole process in NJ, even if the gas is 20-25 cents more expensive there (thanks to NJ’s ridiculously low gas state tax). I can’t wait to get out of here.

        • Banished to the Corner says:

          Interesting, I lived in Oregon for most of my life, and the gas was cheaper there than in Washington. My siblings that still live there tell me the prices are close, but they can usually get it cheaper in Oregon.

          Most of the time you must pay for the gas inside, so the gas is pumped by the attendant and the driver is inside waiting for the total. Some of the places make you pay first, come back out and show the attendant the receipt before your gas is pumped.

          And Oregon has no sales tax, either. Sigh, I miss home..California s**ks.

          • MuleHeadJoe says:

            Then go. Home is calling you. If more transplants left California to go home, then MY home (i.e., California) would be ever so much of a nicer place to live, in my opinion. I’m damn tired of damn foriegners (Oreginians, Texans, East-Coasters) coming here and talking trash. Go away already.

            • shepd says:

              California should just threaten to leave the USA. Then you’d get lots of favours. Works for Quebec.

              • MuleHeadJoe says:

                For what it’s worth, I fully support Texas’ bid to leave the union. There’s an actually noticeable secessionist movement there, and I wish them all the luck in the world. I could probably find a few other states that the U.S. could do without as well :-D

            • MarkFL says:

              Yeah, I feel the same way about people who come from Florida and then spend eight hours a day complaining about how much better everything is “up north” (which invariably means New York or New Jersey). The rest of the time they’re doing things that get reported as “Florida man (insert stupid accomplishment here).” The perception of Floridians by people in the rest of the country would be much better if headlines read “Former New Jerseyite drives car through Florida restaurant window,” or “Thousands of Northeastern retirees accidentally vote for Pat Buchanan in Palm Beach County.”

        • axhandler1 says:

          Seriously? Those laws are definitely not enforced then. If the gas station attendent is unusually busy, I’ll step out and start pumping, or if it has finished pumping and he’s busy with someone else, I’ll step out and take the pump out, take my CC, and go. Never had a problem, or an attendent who was like “Hey! You can’t do that!”

    • JediZombie says:

      Living in Texas and having not traveled to either of those states, I had no idea this kind of thing…well…was a thing. I find it kind of absurd that you can’t pump your own gas. Down here, if you use a “Full Service” station (and good luck finding one) you are pretty much considered lazy.

      • RandomLetters says:

        Here in my small Texas town there was a full service station unitl just a few years ago. The price per gallon was quite a bit higher as I remember it. It was mostly frequented by older ladies.

    • tdx914 says:

      I was told that the big motivator is liability insurance costs. The cost of insurance in self-serve states is supposedly astronomical.

      Then again, if it were a cost factor, I would expect to see full-serve stations in the other 48 states.

  3. jeepguy57 says:

    I wonder if the attendants were nice enough to warn people who didn’t read the sign and just pulled up. My wife would have been one of them. Though she would have given the Amex card to the attendant and walked away with a $170 bill and would never have noticed.

  4. Hi_Hello says:

    can they switch gas company? change from lukeoil to bp?

    • LizardFoot says:

      Typically, a gas station is a franchisee and has a contract with the oil company. The oil company usually owns the tanks and the pumps. So switching from Lukoil to BP might mean digging up the tanks and replacing the pumps. Breaking the contract could be very expensive. It’s more than just changing the signs.

      • MarkFL says:

        I’m not sure about that. A few years ago there was an investigative report on gas stations engaging in various types of fraud. One of the stations they focused on was a Texaco station, and the day after the story ran, Texaco came down and removed all the signage, decals, etc. — but the pumps and tank remained, and the gas station was actually still in business, at least as of a week later when the follow-up report ran.

  5. Cerne says:

    Price gouging is not a form of protest.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      They aren’t gouging, RTFA.

      Also, if no one buys from them because of the posted price, that loss of money will funnel back up to the overlords and they will perhaps take notice.

      • binkleyz says:

        Won’t have any impact at all if it only lasts one day.

        The customers will just either fill up somewhere else or just come back the next day, but the gasoline delivered to the station will still be sold, regardless..

        A one day blip in fuel sales is meaningless, and this is exactly the same useless tactic out there that occasionally pops up as a “Don’t buy fuel on such-and-such a day” protests. Gas is fungible, and where you buy it has no impact as long as the oil/gas companies are assured that you WILL buy it just as soon as the protest is over. If you want to have a meaningful boycott, what has to happen is a large # of people all need to commit to NOT CONSUMING any fuel for a meaningful time, measured in days or weeks, not hours.

      • MarkFL says:

        I’m sure the oil company can hold out longer with the lost business than the franchisees can.

  6. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Gee, and I thought $3.999 was high here in Central PA!

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I’m paying $4.54 in the NorthWest corner of Connecticut.

      • NotEd says:

        It appear that it is as low as $4.13 for regular here in the Chicago Burbs (DuPage County) according to Gas Buddy.
        Frankly I still miss the price I used to pay in the Maryland/DC suburbs (depending on where you went).

        Apparently I’m glad I didn’t move to Connecticut…

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Ouch! I guess we’ll have to pay it until someone figures out a way to make gasoline at home. In western PA, some people have oil wells on their personal property, and I’m really surprised some enterprising person hasn’t figured this out yet.

  7. axhandler1 says:

    $9.99 is the ADVERTISED price, not the price they are actually charging. The linked article doesn’t have that rather important piece of information.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/nj-pa-lukoil-franchisees-publicize-gas-protest/story?id=17217583

  8. keith4298 says:

    NJ also has the lowest taxes in the Country.

    • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

      Well, for gas, yes.

      For everything else….. maybe if that country is Finland!

      • NotEd says:

        Finland, Finland, Finland
        The country where I want to be
        Pony trekking or camping
        Or just watching TV
        Finland, Finland, Finland
        It’s the country for me

        You’re so near to Russia
        So far from Japan
        Quite a long way from Cairo
        Lots of miles from Vietnam

        Finland, Finland, Finland
        The country where I want to be
        Eating breakfast or dinner
        Or snack lunch in the hall
        Finland, Finland, Finland
        Finland has it all

        You’re so sadly neglected
        And often ignored
        A poor second to Belgium
        When going abroad

        Finland, Finland, Finland
        The country where I quite want to be
        Your mountains so lofty
        Your treetops so tall
        Finland, Finland, Finland
        Finland has it all

        Oh focus on Finland friends

        Finland, Finland, Finland
        The country where I quite want to be
        Your mountains so lofty
        Your treetops so tall
        Finland, Finland, Finland
        Finland has it all, Finland has it all

        The end.

  9. HeadsOnPikes says:

    You’re charging me too much, which I have to pass along to customers, thereby keeping customers from shopping at my station. Accordingly, I will keep everyone from shopping at my station. I SHOWED YOU!

    And if you don’t knock it off, I’m going to light myself on fire. That’ll teach you!

  10. speaky2k says:

    I had seen this on the local news here in Eastern PA. There were 2 Lukoil stations near my house, but both of them closed almost a year ago. They were only about 1/4 mile apart on the same road and they never charged the same price (although they were always higher than the other stations around). One was right at the exit of a highway, the other was more in town along the exit road, the one on the exit wasn’t always the higher priced one either. I know that in PA you can’t charge more or less than a certain amount compared to other stations in the area, so they couldn’t have CHARGED this difference, even if they had it on their signs. Also, if the signs were different than the price on the pump, I think that is a fine-able offence to the station owner as well.

  11. Ace says:

    The reason behind Oregon’s attendant pumps is not one of safety. It is all about the environment. At least that’s the latest argument from 2010 when it was last challenged in the state senate. They claim that gas spills from incompetent vehicle owners could cause harm to the fish due to runoff into the rivers. This, in turn, would harm the fishing industry. 20 years ago it was because Oregonians relied on gas stations for job creation and allowing the public to fill their own car would take away jobs. Maybe it’s all about jobs…

    Any way you look at it, it has never been about safety. There is not a clear answer for the actual reason, but it definitely is not because lawmakers seek to protect the public from themselves.

    • binkleyz says:

      Helps keep jobs too.. ;)

    • shepd says:

      Ahhh, yes, because I have always seen the full serve guys watching closely the one vehicle they fill at a time.

      Nahh, more like they get 6 vehicles going at a time and you end up waiting 5 minutes after it’s full for them to come back and get the money. Luckily other people don’t have a hole in their fill neck (hmmm… I think my car might, but I only fill it with gasoline once in a blue moon so I don’t care).

    • CrackedLCD says:

      Just how much gas to do they think Oregonians would spill? A few drops to a few cups on the ground will evaporate in a few minutes. It couldn’t make it to the river unless they left the nozzle running and pointed it at the nearest drain!

      I didn’t know about the full serve law there until I was driving through and stopped at some podunk off the highway place to fill up. I got about 50% filled when the attendant came out of the store to let me know I was not allowed to do that. By the time he explained it, I was done and ready to be on my way. It certainly highlighted the absurdity of the whole situation; how much longer would it have taken had I waited on John Q. Slow to do the job for me? Sheesh. This is why I won’t fill up in Oregon or New Jersey now when travelling. I drive a diesel and the law, at least in NJ, allows us to pump our own derv. Most pump jockeys don’t seem to know this and it’s an infernal hassle. I’ll just pay more and go out of state.

  12. MBZ321 says:

    Lukoil stations are awful around here (Philly suburbs). They continuously have the most expensive gas..and I have seen countless locations close up over the past 4 years or so. The one in my town has thier “cash price” 20 cents/gal higher than the no-name brand location right down the road, that will take credit cards too. One station even charges 30-50 cents more a gallon than surrounding stations. I feel bad for the owners who are stuck in long-term contracts with them.

  13. weave says:

    Woot on my pic being used. I took this pic in Turkey, half way between Ankara and Konya. Tripped me out when I saw it. Didn’t know at the time it was a Russian company.

  14. alternety says:

    I don’t think you guys appreciate the advantage of attendant pumped gas.

    First of all, you have not got the requisite training to find the right hole and stick the nozzle in it. You might, an an untrained boob, try to put the gas in the exhaust pipe. Or the keyhole in the drivers door. Or the windshield washer fluid tank. I believe the minimum training is a BS is engineering + at least 1 year of advanced study involving intensive training at getting it in the right hole.

    You, as an untrained civilian, might be tempted to stand my your car or (god forbid) use the manual control on the gas nozzle. And monitor the process. Which in general does not need monitoring. Unlike the trained specialist that sets the automatic stop and moves on to another car, thereby protecting the nozzle operator from the possible explosion and conflagration.

    It also prevents the continuing carnage common in the other 48 states and the rest of the world, where entire families are constantly being immolated from a faulty civilian refueling attempt. The horror. The pathos. The bullshit.

    • LizardFoot says:

      As a former NJ gas station attendant, I am offended. You completely forgot to mention windshield sanitization and dipstick handling. I was certified in both by the Vinnie Bagadonots from the NJ Board of Fuel Dispensement.

  15. Mr. Bill says:

    I remember as a teen there was a fad of topless attendants. Those were the days. My first job was as a gas jockey 95 cents a hour.

  16. soj4life says:

    Nothing new, this has happened a couple of times since Lukoil came to the delaware valley.