The Herald Bulletin

June 12, 2013

Striking oil

Lucky customers pay only 44 cents a gallon for gas after station’s error

By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — The last time gas was under 50 cents a gallon, you probably fueled up with "Maggie May" blaring from your '71 GTO. 

But Wednesday night, a few lucky people in Anderson got their gas for only 44 cents a gallon — And no, that's not a typo. 

Due to a technical error that lasted nearly two hours, premium pumps at the Marathon station at 38th Street and Columbus Avenue were priced roughly $4 below where they should have been. 

Customers drove away with about 50 gallons during that time — about a $200 loss, said station owner Sunny Singh. He said management turned the pumps off as soon as they noticed the problem. 

But not before Kristen Mosiman got hers. She and a handful of others waited by their cars for over an hour Wednesday, demanding the station give them the same discount. 

"I feel like we should get our gas, just like everybody else does," said Mosiman, of Anderson. 

She came after seeing posts about the cheap gas on Facebook. Others heard through friends' texts and calls, and by the time Mosiman got there, the place was packed.

"You hear 44 cents for gas, and you run over," she said. 

Many of the people who waited said they felt cheated, since they pulled in before the liquid gold stopped flowing. One pump still displayed a total sale of nearly 13 gallons for less than $6, and records of similar sales still hung from receipt dispensers. 

Waiting to fuel up her minivan, Brittany Neal's biggest beef was, "that we're out here for so long," she said. "At this point, I'd even be nice and take it for a dollar (a gallon)." 

To be fair, stations don't actually make that much from the gas they sell — often as little as pennies per gallon, after tax, delivery costs, etc., by some reports.

According to a 2011 data set from financial analysts at Sageworks, the profit margin has risen a bit over the years, but still falls at only around 2 percent per $50 of gas. That's half a percentage point less, it found, than the company processing those customers' credit cards.

Even so, with even unleaded gas prices hovering around $4, Neal said, "44 cents would have helped out a lot." She's nine months pregnant and is due Monday.

"It's a long drive from this side of town to Community (Hospital Anderson)," she said.

Like Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and follow her @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.