Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pumper Beware!

Hope you were planning on filling up with Regular at this place, but if they could find a way to make their prices any more vague, I guarantee you they would. I already noticed when I moved to Las Vegas that gasoline prices were higher than they were back home, but do they have to make it even harder for you to figure out if you're getting a good price? If you're new to Vegas or you're going to be renting a car here, you might as well know how deceptive the gas prices are at each station's sign. First of all, although Rebel and Arco AM/PM stations will generally have the best prices, the price they're posting on the big sign alongside the street to get you to pull in are going to be the cash price, so if you're running low on the greenbacks and were planning to use your debit card, it's going to cost you. AM/PM stations are a particularly bad offender here, because although their sign may say the cash and debit price are the same, once you swipe your debit card you'll find you're going to be charged a 35-cent debit card fee if you proceed. So if you only planned on pumping two or three gallons, those savings will evaporate faster than the fumes in your empty tank. 

(AM/PM stations have installed self-service kiosks between the pumps to save you a trip into the store. Don't even bother using them. Just go inside and pay in cash; give them a twenty and say you only want ten dollars' worth if you need an excuse. Often the debit card swipe won't work so it will just tell you to use cash or find another pump, and often they won't have installed a cash slot yet. That's if you're lucky; otherwise you'll learn about that 35-cent fee.)

The other bait and switch is if you see a really great price at that Shell station on Flamingo, but when you get closer you notice the fine print: that price is only if you buy a car wash at the same time you buy your gas. The most deceptive of these miscreants is a 76 station on Charleston; there's really nothing on their sign that said to me the regular price was valid only if you were also buying a car wash. I'm sorry, merely having the words "Car Wash" somewhere on your sign doesn't do it for me, and I'm just going to go back inside and ask for my cash back rather than pay the extra 15 cents a gallon.

In summation: Here's the real reason you always have to have cash in your pocket when you drive around Vegas.

Now, another way you can save on gas is if you get Fuel Rewards, which you can by picking up rewards cards from Smith's and Food 4 Less, or by signing up for Shell's Fuel Rewards Network. In the latter case, you can save 3 cents a gallon at all participating Shell stations, and an extra 7 cents a gallon every time you spend $50 at participating Vegas restaurants. Hey, that's only ten breakfasts or tapas orders at the Florida Cafe! That 10-cents-a-gallon discount will only apply to your first fill-up after you earn it though, so don't waste in on a top-off of a couple of gallons; afterwards you have to start all over again making trips to the Florida or Hussong's Cantina or one of dozens of other restaurants around town. First you fill up, then you get your car filled up; not a bad deal.

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