HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – A new gas station is fueling quite a bit of controversy in Hopewell. Some customers say the prices advertised at the business are confusing and deceptive.
The gas station offers different prices for different methods of payment. Those who pay with cash -- get a discount. The problem is a number of people thought they were getting that lower price but were charged more because they paid with a debit or credit card.
Vincent Grise thought $2.89 a gallon for gas was a great deal.
"That was cheaper so I pulled in to get gas," said 68-year-old Grise.
But when Grise swiped his credit card and began pumping, at the Golden Express Convenience Store, the price jumped by nearly ten cents.
"I stopped pumping and I went in and asked them about it," said Grise.
The cheaper price was for customers paying with cash.
"You just see the big sign that's lit up that's how much gas is," said Grise.
Grise and several other customers, including Daniel Foley, say they didn't notice the smaller "cash" sign displayed near the cheaper gas price on the marquee.
"At night you can barely see it. It's barely visible," said Foley.
On the pumps, there are signs indicating a cash discount. Although some customers call the pricing deceptive and unclear -- it's not illegal.
"On the street they can post a discount price but they have to indicate that it is a cash price," said Elaine Lindholm, Spokesperson for the VA Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Lindholm says the "cash" sign doesn't have to be a specific size. It only has to be readable.
"This is true not only at the gas station but any commercial transaction -- people need to read signage. They need to pay attention and notice if something changes before the transaction begins. The onus is on the customer to pay attention," said Lindholm.
Grise made his own sign and protested at the gas station.
"I think they should light up a cash sign and what the regular price is," he said.
He plans on filling up his tank elsewhere and checking twice before paying at the pump. The owner at the store says his business is in compliance with all laws required and that he plans on leaving the signs as is.
If you have a complaint about a consumer transaction you can call the state's consumer protection hotline at 1-800-552-9963.