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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

BP Accused of Manipulating Gas Prices and Fuel Supplies

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2011 at 6:00 PM

click to enlarge Gasholes are everywhere!
  • Gasholes are everywhere!

Last week, we told SF Weekly readers about Safeway being accused of predatory pricing when selling fuel. Now gas stations are suing BP, accusing the oil giant of manipulating supplies for a bigger profit.

In the class action lawsuit filed last week in San Francisco, the lead plaintiff, Green Desert Oil Group, claims that BP doesn't deliver fuel automatically, even when it has the capacity to do so. The suit, which is led by 15 plaintiffs nationwide, claims that BP will deliberately deliver gas before or after prices increase or decrease, which then increases the sales price to franchise owners.

By 1 p.m. every day, BP informs franchise owners of any price changes in fuel. Those new prices are then effective at 3 the same day. So BP will delay delivering gas until after 3, when the higher price goes into effect, according to the lawsuit.

"But if the price decreases, BP will rush deliveries before 3 p.m.," the plaintiffs' attorneys argue.

In addition, the lawsuit claims, BP forced franchise owners, including ARCO gas stations, to install a new but defective centralized point-of-sale system that resulted in money lost and customer complaints.

They claim that BP knew this system was faulty, and even the company's West Coast products president, William Fry, admitted the device was only "75 percent effective." Essentially, the system fails to charge a fee to some customers using debit cards, while others might be overcharged.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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