Shell Oil Accused of Charging Debit Card Fees at Gas Stations Using Deceptive Practices

2021-04-20 13:29:00
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NOTICE: If you are a resident of California and made a gasoline purchase from Shell Oil using your debit card within the past five years, contact the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 777-7777

shell oil deceptive practicesAs gasoline prices increase, consumers look for ways to reduce costs, including seeking out gas stations that offer a discounted price for not paying with credit. A 2019 study by GasBuddy.com found that consumers often choose to pay for fuel with a debit card instead of a credit card to receive a discount on gasoline.

Unfortunately, one of California’s leading fuel retailers is allegedly offering deceptive pricing that entices buyers to pay higher prices unknowingly. Shell Oil Company sells fuel based on a two-tiered, “split” pricing method: one price for payments involving credit and a discounted price for cash.

While debit cards are an electronic payment form, they deduct funds directly from a bank account and do not involve credit. Most debit card users, therefore, believe that cash discounts to avoid paying with credit will apply to their purchase.

In the case of Shell Oil, the company quietly considers debit cards to be the same as credit cards, charging unsuspecting customers the higher credit price.

Consumers typically make their Shell Oil purchase decisions at the pump, where the discounted price is clearly visible. The lower cash price encourages the customer to pay at the pump with a debit card, thinking that they are getting the discount along with the convenience of not having to go into the store to pay with paper cash.

Unless they request a printed receipt and carefully check it, the customer is not aware that they were charged the higher rate. If they do happen to notice the price discrepancy, it is after the sale is complete on a product that cannot be returned. The consumer then has virtually no recourse to remedy the overcharge.

Reportedly, Shell Oil has long been aware that their split pricing misleads consumers. They have been motivated to continue these deceptive practices for the increased revenues they produce.

Shell Oil has nearly 14,000 locations across the United States, with 1,150 gas stations in California alone. It is the largest branded U.S. gasoline provider in a number of stations and total gallons sold.

NOTICE: If you are a resident of California and made a gasoline purchase from Shell Oil using your debit card within the past five years, contact the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 777-7777 to discuss your situation and possible developing legal options.