2010-12-24 / Front Page

Wrong price posted creates pandemonium at the pumps

‘I lost almost $1,500 over this’ Gaffney police officers tell customers of the BP-branded gas station on Peachoid Road that the business was closing for the day and they had to leave the property. Some of the customers were in the middle of filling up their tanks when the pumps, which accidentally were dispensing premium gas for 30 cents a gallon, were shut off. (Ledger photo / TIM GULLA)
By TIM GULLA Ledger Staff Writer tim@gaffneyledger.com

A gas station’s mistake in setting the price of premium gasoline at a ridiculously low level led to a traffic jam, police intervention and, ultimately, dozens of angry motorists Thursday.

The British Petroleum (BP)-branded Quick Pantry on Peachoid Road accidentally began selling premium gas Thursday for just 30.9 cents a gallon instead of the $3.09 it should have been, and though the price wasn’t advertised on its billboard — motorists quickly spread the word by cell phone.

Within minutes, cars began snaking around the gas station and traffic backed up on Peachoid Road and Highway 11, more than a block away.

When the gas station’s pumps shut off while some customers were in the process of filling up, angry customers immediately called for police, claiming the station’s actions in shutting off the pumps was illegal.

The Gaffney Police Department ended up sending several police officers to the scene, who ultimately ordered the crowd to disperse and informed it that the gas station was closed.

The price of 0.309 per gallon listed on the pump should have read $3.09. The price of 0.309 per gallon listed on the pump should have read $3.09. “They gave away over 800 gallons of gas,” estimated Violet Burroughs, who was waiting in line for her line for her chance to buy gas when the pumps shut down. “Now they want to turn the pumps off. It’s against the law,” she claimed.

“It’s their (the gas station’s) mistake,” she argued. She believed everyone waiting in line should get the 30-cents per-gallon price.

A person who identified himself as Mr. Patel and said he was a partner in GNC LLC., which owns the store, said the station only had about 1,000 gallons of premium fuel in the tank to begin with and ended up selling about 700 gallons at the mistaken price. Patel said there wasn’t even enough gas left in the premium tank for the pumps to operate and that he was officially out of premium.

“I lost almost $1,500 over this,” he said.

Patel added that some customers were understanding but others were not.

“A mistake is a mistake,” he said. “Nobody sells 39 cent gas,” he said. “Maybe in 1972, yes. But right now, no.”

Gaffney police officers called to the scene indicated there was noting criminal about the situation.

“It’s a civil matter,” one officer informed the crowd while directing it to leave. “If you call want to get together as a group (for a civil complaint) that’s fine. At this point, the store is closed.”

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