Montauk, NY - June 30, 2014 - Many gas stations are charging a higher price for credit card purchases. In some cases the price differential is as much as a dollar per gallon.
Suffolk Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) has filed a new bill seeking to require gasoline retailers to display the elevated credit card price at least as prominently as the discounted cash price for gasoline.
“Drivers are lured into the gas station by the large signs along the road displaying the price per gallon, only to discover that the price at the pump is significantly higher if they don’t pay cash,” says Schneiderman. “This practice is deceptive and inconveniences drivers who will either pay the additional fee or have to get back on the highway to find another more affordable station.” According to the proposed law, gasoline retailers who charge a higher price based on the method of payment, must post the higher price at least as prominently as the discounted price.
Earlier this year Schneiderman sought to require these stations to alert consumers at the point of sale by including an electronic prompt at the credit card terminal warning the purchaser of the additional credit card charges. Gas retailers opposed the regulation claiming it was not possible for them to change the programming of the pump terminal in this way. That legislation remains tabled at the County Legislature.
In the interim, Schneiderman looked to provide another way to easily alert customers of large price differentials. Schneiderman felt that the best way to do that was to require that the street signage reflect the actual price of gas, not just the cash discounted price. “Current gas prices are the highest we have seen in some time,” said Schneiderman. “More than ever, we need to protect consumers from additional fees that can be avoided.”
“It is said that ‘wise customers always read the fine print,’” said Legislator Kara Hahn, bill co-sponsor and member of the Legislature’s Consumer Protection Committee. “However, at highway speeds it is impossible for a consumer to spot all of the stipulations associated with the listed price. This bill should ensure truth and honesty in the advertising of fuel prices and better protect customers from any real or perceived ‘Bait and Switch’ scenario.”
Another co-sponsor of this measure is Legislator Bill Lindsay III who stated “I have always believed in the free market and limited government intervention. However this is a clear case of deceptive advertising and our fiduciary responsibility as legislators is to protect the interests of the consumers when this occurs. The purpose of this law is not to dictate pricing to the market but only to require gasoline retailers to honestly present their prices.”
This piece of legislation will come before the Government Operations, Personnel, Housing & Consumer Protection Committee meeting on July 23 at the Suffolk County Legislature.