Some Gas Stations Misleading at the Pump

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With gas prices rising nearly every day, drivers are always on the lookout for the cheapest fuel.

But in some places, customers see one price on the gas station's road sign -- and another on their receipt.

It may be legal, but it's making drivers angry. At some stations across the nation, gas costs more if you pay with plastic. And the station doesn't have to tell you that on the sign out front.

It's called "tiered pricing." Stations are supposed to label the pump clearly if they charge different prices for cash and credit cards -- or face a fine. But not all of them do.

"We go by, we warn them, we give them so many days to get into compliance," said Jerry Butler with the North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture. "If they don't, then we'll tag the pumps, take them out of order until they do get in compliance."

These days, many gas stations are struggling to stay afloat. Visa charges a two percent fee for each credit card transaction. But some stations are charging much more -- 10, 20, even 50 cents a gallon over the cash price -- if you swipe your credit card.

"It's a typical bait and switch," one consumer said. "You lure them in with an attractive price that could be lower than their competitors, and then you hit them with higher credit card fees."

But there's another reason gas stations charge less if you pay with cash. They want you to come inside to pay. Because once you're there, there's a good chance you'll buy coffee, a soft drink, or something else. And that's where they make their biggest profit.

Station owners who don't display both cash and credit prices can face hefty fines. So one owner decided to go with a flat fee for everyone.

"Everybody pay the same. No benefit for cash customers anymore," he said.

To make sure you don't get ripped off at the pump, look at the posted prices carefully -- and check your receipt.

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Andrea Garrett

Andrea Garrett

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