Why Is This Man Charging $4.30 for a Gallon of Gas?

There is a Shell station in San Francisco, at Sixth and Harrison, that was recently charging $4.33 a gallon for regular gas and $4.43 for premium. Across the street is a Chevron station that charges about 70 cents less per gallon. Can you guess why? I seriously doubt it.

You might think it has something to do with Shell vs. Chevron policy or pricing, in which case you’d be a little bit right, but not really. You might think that the Shell station offers something that the Chevron station and others don’t, in which case you’d be wrong. You’d also be wrong if you guessed that the Shell station has huge insurance costs, e.g., or if you guessed pretty much anything else along those lines.

The reason the Shell station charges so much is because its owner, Bob Oyster, got into a feud with Shell over the price of gas and the rent of the gas station. So he decided to jack up the price of his gas to get back at the company. “I got fed up,” Oyster told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It makes a statement, and I guess when people see that price they also see the Shell sign right next to it.”

Oyster says that Shell and other big companies are squeezing service-station owners way too hard, and he plans to shut down his station soon anyway. “I’m going out with a bang,” he said. “And I don’t care if I don’t pump a gallon on the last day.”

My guess is that he won’t pump a single gallon on that last day — unless he suddenly changes tactics, puts up a big sign that says “Oyster Gas,” and drops his price to $2.

(Hat tip: Matthew Greber.)

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  1. mdw0526 says:

    This actually happened several weeks ago. After raising the price of a gallon over $4.00, as described above, he then lowered the price to around $2 to get rid of the remaining gas in the underground tanks.

    People were lined up around the block for hours.

    The station is now closed. The owner handed the keys back to Shell.

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  2. mdw0526 says:

    This actually happened several weeks ago. After raising the price of a gallon over $4.00, as described above, he then lowered the price to around $2 to get rid of the remaining gas in the underground tanks.

    People were lined up around the block for hours.

    The station is now closed. The owner handed the keys back to Shell.

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  3. j.a.s.o.n says:

    “People were lined up around the block for hours.”

    Ha! Apparently (in addition to not being familiar with the time value of money) these poor saps are not familiar with the money value of time (opportunity cost)! I can just imagine the excitement these people felt over saving $20 on gas in exchange for hours of their time while their kids sat at home wondering where daddy was.

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  4. j.a.s.o.n says:

    “People were lined up around the block for hours.”

    Ha! Apparently (in addition to not being familiar with the time value of money) these poor saps are not familiar with the money value of time (opportunity cost)! I can just imagine the excitement these people felt over saving $20 on gas in exchange for hours of their time while their kids sat at home wondering where daddy was.

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  5. makfan says:

    There’s another station in SF at 4th and Bryant that is a Shell and always seems to be considerably higher than other stations in town.

    An Arco station at Market & Castro & 17th used to have wild pricing as well. Some days it would be as high as $6.00 per gallon, then it would drop sharply. Now the station is called “RC”.

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  6. makfan says:

    There’s another station in SF at 4th and Bryant that is a Shell and always seems to be considerably higher than other stations in town.

    An Arco station at Market & Castro & 17th used to have wild pricing as well. Some days it would be as high as $6.00 per gallon, then it would drop sharply. Now the station is called “RC”.

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  7. I have to admit to laughing when I see $4.30 cited as being a high cost for gas. Esp when we seem to be around the $8 mark in the UK…

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  8. I have to admit to laughing when I see $4.30 cited as being a high cost for gas. Esp when we seem to be around the $8 mark in the UK…

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