Some Gas Stations Resort To Half-Gallon Pricing

To deal with pumps that don’t have enough numbers on them to go above $3.99 per gallon, some gas station owners are selling gas by the half-gallon. Another problem is that pumps with dials on them are wearing out faster as the dials have to spin faster to keep up as the dollars per second coming out of the pump is greater. There is a seventeen-week backlog for replacement pumps that let the price show above $3.99.

Old Meters Mean Double the Price at the Pump [NYT]
(Photo: Morton Fox)


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  1. diablofreak says:

    nice! sign me up for $2.19! (per half gallon)

    maybe they should have prices stay put at 1.99 and adjust the gallonage that you get per $1.99


  2. Shadowman615 says:

    I didn’t even know there still were gas pumps in production with manual dials.

  3. outinthedark says:

    This oil/devalued dollar crap is starting to get to me…

    How much longer can this go for? It’s so hard to do anything these days when driving across town costs me a days worth of meals [just an example].

  4. mercnet says:

    This should be the number one reason for lowering gas prices ha.

  5. @mercnet: If that’s what it takes, SURE!

  6. CaptZ says:

    Oil will be down again by the end of the summer as will the price of gas…….mark my words. It will get worse before it gets better. Don’t count on $2/gal gas again though. It will average around 2.50 – 2.75 by end of August and stay there for the next year or so, barring any interruptions or more stupidity from the Bush admin, like attacking Iran.

  7. crabbyman6 says:

    @CaptZ: shhhh, don’t give him any ideas!

  8. Buran says:

    @Shadowman615: I don’t think they are — these are probably being used at older stations that don’t want to/don’t need to replace the whole pump. I filled up a few days ago at a BP in a small Iowa town that had pumps with mechanical dials, a separate pump for each grade of gas, and the switch that turned the pump on was a metal flap that moved over the nozzle hole. I also had to pay inside as the pumps had no card readers.

  9. dualityshift says:

    Only as long as society allows it.

    This gas price fixing isn’t because of a weak dollar, or conflict in the Middle East. Most families budget ‘x’ dollars for transport each week, which includes going out/entertainment. The Oil company(ies) know this and have decided to squeeze us for what they can. If they know you will always spend ‘x’ for ‘y’ why not lower the amount of ‘y’ for ‘x’. They won’t make much more money week to week, but their total profitability goes up since they get more money for less product, and their shipping costs go down, since most of us can’t keep upping our transport budget. We don’t buy more, so they can ship less, or less often.

    Why haven’t these oil barons been brought up on charges of collusion?

  10. ColoradoShark says:

    How about they just black out the current decimal points, move them over one place, add a zero to the end of the price and round to the nearest ten cents?

    This will let them stretch the current manual pumps from 3.99 to 39.90 (yikes!). It will also stop the pumps from wearing out so quickly as they will only spin 1/10 speed.

    I think everyone can multiple/divide by ten pretty easily. Multiplying/dividing by two is not always so easy to do in your head depending on the amount.s

  11. FLConsumer says:

    I don’t understand why they’re having such an issue with this. I’ve read that some of the stations are either charging the half-gallon, or have the pumps set to $3.99 and are manually making the calculations.

    Rather than all of that crap, why don’t they set the pump for $1 then use the current price as a multiplier? Far simpler math than trying to add an extra $0.17/gallon or other crap.

  12. chanh55 says:

    You think the number things inside would be 999 not 399…

    I don’t understand…

  13. tkozikow says:

    Pricing by the half gallon is illegal in some areas as described in this recent article from The Washington Post: []

    I understand the need to protect the consumer, but this seems to make a lot of sense to me.

  14. tkozikow says:

    Try this link…


  15. timmus says:

    This is really stupid. Any pump owner with half a brain would just move the decimal place over. Do they really have to get that little 9/10ths of a cent amount in there?

  16. CaptZ says:

    Where it is illegal they are getting waivers from the state to do it as to not be in violation of the law. The feds are being lenient so the stations still can sell gas as long as they have the waiver and notices posted that explain the situation.

  17. CaptZ says:


    He only gets his ideas from Cheney. And Cheney probably tells him what to say and makes all his body movements also…..either by a hand up his ass or strings attached to him like a marionet.

  18. wgrune says:


    You may be surprised at the number of people in this country that can’t easilly multiply or divide by 10…

  19. Jnetty says:

    There is about 10 Getty stations in Long Island still sealing at 3.99 because of older pumps.

  20. Greeper says:

    Did you see by how many *billions* of gallons consumption decreased last month? Maybe we will all start learning some good habits….

  21. packetsniffer says:

    “Another problem is that pumps with dials on them are wearing out faster as the dials have to spin faster to keep up as the dollars per second coming out of the pump is greater”
    Now that’s just pushing it.

    There isn’t price fixing going on here; this is the result of natural market forces. When demand increases but supply stays the same, prices rise. A weak US dollar (from inflation due to the Bush administration’s botching of the budget on a myriad of levels) further raises the price here at home, which in turn affects every part of our economy.

    Also important to keep in mind is the huge difference between profit and profit margin. Do some research into the oil companies’ profits vs. their profit margins and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    The solution to this is increasing the supply, which the US is demanding the Middle East do, but refusing to do itself. The people to blame here are your very own elected officials for not allowing us to drill our own oil from the vast deposits that exist all across our country.

  22. TechnoDestructo says:


    The upper echelons of government are currently filled with current, former, and future oil barons, and their close personal friends.

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    I long for when they sell gasoline by the ounce.
    Whoo whoo – gas for pennies!!
    Err, I mean, “Whoo whoo – gas for dimes!!!”

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    @packetsniffer: Drill ANWAR to the max, as the polar bear haters, in their wildest wet dreams, ask for, and we get:
    Two weeks of meeting US petroleum needs. That’s it.
    Besides, the oil companies will end up selling all that Alaskan crude to… China. They’re on the record for this.

    So, despoiling a pristine national park to feed the Chinese petrol diet for a couple weeks. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
    Club baby seals much?

  25. wgrune says:


    I HATE to use wikipedia as a source here but…

    “In total, the oil deposits in ANWR contain as much oil to solely support U.S. consumption for 7 months (4.3B estimate) to 2 years and 2.3 months (16B estimate).”

    Thats a bit more then TWO WEEKS. This is with 100% consumption coming from ANWR.


  26. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Trai_Dep: And you’re an engineer that knows exactly how much oil is in ANWAR?

  27. Posthaus says:


    Don’t you mean geologist?

  28. azntg says:

    Frankly, I have more problems with the oil companies, oil producers and our current executive administration than with individual gas stations per se.

    I personally believe that we’re way past the Supply and Demand logic for pricing. From the trends and statistics that I’m looking across the internet (and assuming that they have even a semblance of truth in them), I say we’re in the Corruption and Greed logic for pricing.

    And the factors I’m thinking only add layers of plausibility to this. Yes, there is a finite amount of oil available on earth and the market for consumption has increased appreciably since let’s say two decades ago, no denials there. But, two things that sticks out in my mind are (just my opinion)

    1) the Bush administration in general don’t seem to care much about companies partaking in immoral and corrupt activities. If anything, the administration seems to get in trouble after it’s discovered that they’re behind it or after they are caught doing those things along the lines THEMSELVES. Aw shucks, how can the guilty pass judgement to their fellow guilty parties?

    2) I remember when George Bush asked the Saudis to increase productions and they flat out said “No.” Well, that may have been pushing it in any case, but if anything, my conclusion to that is that the oil producers (not strictly limited to the Saudis) got their taste of money lately and they’re willing to keep it up at any expense. Screw the United States, European countries and developing nations. It also shows that the United States has lost its clout (Once upon a time, it used to be “do it” and it was done. Not anymore.)

    Until there’s some form of backlash that’ll force those guys making tons of money to rethink their business plans, we’ll be seeing more of those half-gallon pricing and higher costs of everything. In the grand scheme of things, we’ll ultimately be paying more to put more money in the pockets of the oil barons.

    It’s a real shame that we (the United States collectively) are in a very bad position to be able to make that backlash.

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    @wgrune: Thanks. Goes to show, I heard that factoid and it lodged in my brain. Though, even with the 6-month or 2-year estimate, the general point stands. We’ll lay waste to a unique national park for a very short bump in supply. Which would feed Chinese cars. Yay!
    On point of comparison, how much did the Gulf of Mexico fields have when they first tapped them? Or the Saudi, Iraqi, even Baharain ones? Generations of US consumption, right? It’d be a different conversation – one that I’m not sure where I’d stand on, but would lean towards hella careful extraction – if it were.

    @aaron8301: – the really nice thing about language and reading? You can rely on experts who know far more than you (believe it or not, they DO exist!) in a given area. You might find you’ll live a fuller, more expanded life if you learn from things that don’t happen six inches from your nose. As Wgrune pointed out better information, I adjusted. See: learning!

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    @azntg: True, but the best revenge is to go Green. The greener the better (balanced w/ life concerns, obviously). They’re despots anyway, and treat their people horribly. So it’s a two-fer.
    Nice thing is many of the measures and technologies are extremely inelastic. Once done, they’re in for the duration. A lot of money to be made by those that develop these technologies, and the more successful we are, the more we stick it to those that are profiting now.
    It’s funny hearing the wingnuts attacking Greeen, though. It’s like, they LOVE Big Oil and the Sheiks? And hate America? Ye gods…

  31. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    I’d like to see actual data… such as number of gallons of gasoline/diesel consumed in the US from US oil companies and their net revenue and profit per year for each year from 2002 to present. That should show whether or not there is price manipulation. I think there is, but that’s just me.

  32. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @packetsniffer: Great. But what about fifty years from now when ALL the oil is gone? Then what? Why not start looking into alternative energy NOW? Like Iceland is doing (or it Greenland)?

  33. They should start selling gas by the litre, force a conversion to Metric!

  34. hardcle says:

    I remember when gas first cracked $1 a gallon in the late ’70s, some stations started selling gas by the liter because the pumps didn’t go over $.999/gallon.

  35. Don’t see what all the fuss is about ya young whipper-snappers.

    Back in the old days there was this thing called a “calculator” (my grand-dad called it an ‘abacus’ – say: ABBA-cuss).

    All ya’s gots to do is post the going price – along with a rule that all sales are of either full or half-gallons – flush out the number of gallons of go-go juice, and multiply by the price.

    Eureka! collect yer greenbacks owed ya, slap the mule on the backsides to get’r goin’ and get back to (enter own personal addiction here).

    No waitin’ fer new replacement gadgets – no mass upgrade costs = more profit!

    Seriously, this article might be of interest:


  36. Rusted says:

    Simple fix, just go metric. Sell the stuff by the liter. 3.785 liters to the gallon according to Plenty of room for upward movement.

    @azntg: My take is that the Saudis are incapable of increasing production. What they say they have does not jibe with what they actually have.

    @outinthedark:This devalued dollar what-not will go as long as we continue to spend more then we take in, both privately and publicly.

    @Greeper: I like this. The higher the better. Wind and Solar is now at two percent for the power grid, and that is growing by 45 percent or better per annum. SUV sales are in the toilet and small cars are coming back, big time if the Geo Metro sle on E-bay meant anything. The PHEVs are just around the corner, literally.

    This would not be happening except for the cost of buying fuel in the marketplace. Want to see some real change now, push the price to five dollars…….YES!

  37. stinerman says:


    I’ll take that bet.

  38. stinerman says:


    Not to mention that oil production comes out in a bell curve, so it’s not like we could pump like madmen and get all the oil out of ANWR in a few months or something.