Why I Don't Buy Gas at Arco

Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Someone the other day asked me why I don't get gas at Arco. Besides the fact I believe the gas is of inferior quality, I have my own personal reasons for never getting gas there.

About 4 years ago I stopped by an Arco to get gas. It normally has the lowest posted price for gas and I was running low so I said what the heck. I walked up to the center isle to pay for my gas using my credit card, filled up my tank, and then left. I remember, I only put in $9.00 of gas. But when I checked my credit card a week later, I noticed I had been charged $9.35. I knew for sure I had not put in $9.35 so what the heck? I suddenly realized I was charged $0.35 for the privilege of using my credit card.

Now, I for one have no problem with companies charging people who use their credit cards more than people who use cash. It cost the business more money and why should the cash customers subsidize the credit customers? However, the policy should be clear and readily apparent. Nowhere was their a sign that I could find that told me I would be charged the $0.35. Maybe there was a small one somewhere near the credit station, but it was clearly not apparent to someone like me who tends to be fairly observant.

So I have never gone, and will never go back, to Arco. All because they charged me $0.35 and didn't let me know about it. With so many other options I would just rather not bother with this company. Just goes to show you how one little thing can really set off a customer.


Ryan said...

Arco doesn't accept credit transactions. If the transaction went through they tried using it as a debit card. Often your card's bank (MBNA, etc. not visa) will add a fee to non-credit transactions. It's possible that Arco adds 35 cents to all debit transactions, and if they do they are rotten bastards for not clearly warning about it. But, I thought that I've used a debit card at Arco without a fee. It may depend on the bank authorizing the debit transaction.

Also, while you may not mind being discriminated against by a vendor who wants to charge you more because you used a credit card, the credit service does mind. Visa, et al. ban all such practices in their contracts. The common practice of bars that charge a $10 minimum for credit transactions is a blatant violation of their legal contract, and they risk having their merchant account suspended if caught. All merchants who accept Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc have signed an agreement promising not to place a surcharge or a minimum purchase on customers with credit cards. Personally, I refuse to spend my money any place that breaks a legal promise in order to discriminate against me based on my method of payment.

T said...

I am almost sure I paid by credit card but it was 4 years ago. Maybe I'm mistaken, maybe Arco changed its policies. Who knows.

I find it interesting that merchants are not supposed to discriminate and sign a contract that states as much. While in theory, I have no problems if merchants want to charge more for services to those who cost them more, I do like you have a problem with people who blatantly violate a signed contract. I'll have to Think About It next time I see a merchant who does that.

Jenny said...

I have had the same thing happen to me at Arco. There is a small sign (very small) on their credit card/atm machine. I found it after I discovered that I was also charged this mysterious 35 cents. I am not sure if it applies to both credit & debit or just debit. I am almost positive I would have only used debit there. (and it's not a bank fee, it's the Arco fee)

David Cho said...

Take it from a former ARCO employee here. Ryan is absolutely correct. ARCO does not accept credit transactions.