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.)