In February 2017, a strange malpractice was brought up to the knowledge of the U.S fuel retail industry and fuel customers. A Nebraska c-store company was accused of installing deceptive fuel price signs at six of its sites along the I-80 transcontinental freeway near Grand Island. The signs advertised fuel at a price significantly lower to what other gas stations were offering in the area. However, in actuality, the company offered the low price fuel only at limited pumps at each of its six sites.
It was a clear baiting strategy, one designed to pull in the motorists and have them fill up their vehicles under the assumption that they were purchasing gasoline at a bargain price.
Customers and community fuel retailers eventually caught wind of the unethical and immoral marketing practice that the c-store company was involved in. A local business group and four individuals who had been victimized by the foul pricing strategy filed a lawsuit against it.
The defense attorney argued that the company clearly alerted the visitors of the “limited availability” of low price fuel by installing separate signages at the fueling stations. The plaintiffs countered that the signages were deliberately designed to be substantially smaller so that they would be hard for anyone to read from distance.
Both parties have recently submitted their closing arguments in writing to Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte, who has been handling the proceedings of the lawsuit from the beginning. It is expected that Otte will announce his decision in the next court session.
A Message for All Fuel Retailers
The U.S fuel retail industry has its fair share of challenges to overcome. There are many problems that fuel retailers are currently facing, from rising gas tax rates to increasing skimming crimes to stricter compliance rules. As such, instances like these bring bad reputation to the industry and only add to its already long list of woes.
Our message to all fuel retailers: You are good guys; don’t be the bad ones. Be fair and be honest in your dealings.
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