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Can gas stations charge less for cash buys?

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Q. Are stations allowed to charge one price for cash, and another for credit?

- Janine, Tampa

A. Yep. But not without telling you first. Still, when we say "telling," it gets a bit complicated.

Here's the rundown from Matthew Curran, chief of petroleum inspection with Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

State law allows gas stations to offer "tiered" pricing for cash, credit or other payments. But stations must at least display the ultimate price for each method before the point of dispensing the fuel. That can mean on a big sign or on the pump's digital screen.

If stations choose to display the lower-tier price on a large road sign, the station must also display the requirements for getting that price - such as "Cash Price" - on the same sign.

There are no formal rules for how big or prominent the "Cash Price" display must be.

But if a customer sends a complaint to the state, a state inspector will come out and review the sign and determine whether the disclosure is prominent, visible from all directions and illuminated at night.

The state can then send a letter to the station requiring better signs.

Typically, stations have a day or two to make the change, and Curran said they almost always do. But if they don't, they can face a fine of up to a $5,000.

To complain about a gas station to the state inspector, call the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (800) 435-7352.

Submit your question here or visit our Gas Prices page and retail writer Richard Mullins will get you the answer.

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