Gas station ‘shenanigans’ fuel frustration among drivers

A growing practice in Calgary, and other select cities across Canada, is fuelling a lot of frustration for many drivers.

A number of gas stations have been hiking prices — not just week-to-week or day-to-day, but hour-to-hour.

“I think it’s disgusting to be honest,” one Calgary driver said. “The price is all over the place.”


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Drivers in one Calgary neighbourhood supplied Global News with photos showing the same gas station with one price in the morning and a much lower price in the afternoon.

Some said the posted price even switches midday.

“It usually starts first thing in the morning, like rush hour — it seems like all the gas stations in this area tend to go up $0.03 to $0.04,” another driver said. “Then, probably around the 10:30 a.m. mark, they come back down and then again — right around rush hour — they come back.”

“It’s a busy area,” said yet another driver. “Maybe they feel they can jack it up and get a better price.”

Gas analyst Dan McTeague of said it’s a bit of what he calls “gas bar shenanigans,” but he added you can’t really blame the station owners.

“The poor guy behind the pumps is the last guy you should be blaming,” McTeague said.

He said gas stations are trying to squeak out a profit where they can — especially with all the added costs they often face.

“They have to pay for the electricity to turn on the pumps. They hire staff — that costs money. They also have to pay municipal taxes.”

Then there’s the intense competition.

“Because [they are] unlike the big refineries who never compete against each other and all have the big fat wholesale price,” McTeague added. “That’s where the money is being made.”

Still, it’s an argument not all drivers are buying.

“We already pay high enough gas prices as it is, so to hit everyone at the time people get gas the most, I think is wrong,” one driver said.

McTeague said while some drivers may not like the up-and-down prices, what station owners are doing is completely legal. It’s also common practice in cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

He suggested drivers subscribe to the free GasBuddy app and fill up when gas is cheapest — usually in the evening.

“You’ll probably save yourself a lot of grief and certainly a lot of money.”

Global News tried repeatedly to reach out to the gas station owner where the photos were taken to ask him about the fluctuating prices, but did not get a response.

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