Wednesday, July 3

Vacation to Asheville - Watch For Gas Gouging

We were visiting the Biltmore in Asheville when I ended up at a gas station that seemed impossible. At first, I felt lucky that a Shell was right there, since our AAA gas discount has been giving me $.15 a gallon recently. But after I ended up putting $20 into the car, I realized I'd been totally scammed, right in the open.

We were staying in a hotel in the Biltmore Village area (at the center of the pictured map). Next to the hotel was this Shell station. Since we'd been on the 40, it was the first station we'd seen, and since we'd come from Tennessee, it's the first prices we'd seen in North Carolina. Therefore, I figured the $3.49 price for gas was what all the local stations were charging. I was surprised by the $.15 per gallon upcharge for using a credit card, and I also wanted my $.15 per gallon discount, so I went in and paid cash. I saved $.30 a gallon over what some of the other folks around me were paying, but it was still $.50 to $1.00 more than other stations in town.

I've never seen this kind of discrepancy in a city of around 100,000, or even here in Jacksonville with ten times the population. In fact, I thought price gouging was basically illegal, and that gas stations were required to stay within a certain amount of the average. Maybe this Shell station was the only one right next to the entrance to the Biltmore for many years, and it just got used to charging what people would pay. I'm sure the free-market people out there are just laughing at me for not being a good consumer. I guess I can be glad I only blew a twenty on the lesson, but I still feel a bit let down by Shell, which sanctions this particular gas station.

Anyhow, if you plan on visiting the Biltmore (and I think a lot of us from here do), make sure you don't fill up at the Shell right next to the entrance, unless paying more for gasoline makes you feel wealthier.

I sent a message to Shell about this gas station. We'll see if there's any kind of response.

No response from Shell. A Gasbuddy search still shows the Shell station I went to at nearly a dollar more than anywhere else in town, so I guess that's that.

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