At a time when gas prices are soaring at over 4 dollars a gallon, it really creates some chaos when you hear that there is gas going for .69 cents per gallon in New Jersey.  I saw this sign with my own two eyes and even took a photo of it. Can you believe .69 cents per gallon?  The last time we saw that price was in 1978.

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash
Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash
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Recently in California, a gas station manager set the prices at .69 cents per gallon and said it was a dire mistake. His name is John Szczecina and he worked at a station in Rancho Cordova, California where he simply misplaced a decimal point making it .69 cents per gallon instead of $6.99 per gallon. Whoops.  He took full responsibility and also got fired.  I was surprised by this but he had to pay back the sum to the owner that was lost due to his mistake on top of losing his job which I must say feels a bit counterintuitive.  His family set up a Go Fund Me page to help him pay back the 20 thousand dollars. Yikes.  Now to New Jersey...

That raises the question, if gas is advertised wrong does the station have to give it to you at that price until they change the sign?  That was my big question for this New Jersey gas station, here was their sign:

Photo credit: Shannon Holly
Photo credit: Shannon Holly
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I looked into the legalities of this because, hell, I want to send you all to get .69 cent per gallon gas if this is a thing.  Here is what I learned about "false advertising".  Apparently, there is no real law that states a retailer must give the advertised price to the consumer if it is an obvious error.  That gets hairy because what is “obvious”?  In the case of that station in California, he actually set that price into the physical pump, and he was losing thousands and thousands of dollars as people were filling up with a low-key smirk on their faces.  In the New Jersey situation, I spotted this weekend, the pumps were not adjusted but the sign was wrong which is very different. 

Still, could an in-your-face Jersey patron demand that price, since it is, what was on the sign?  You could plead your case but legally you won't win.  Apparently, if a company can show it was a mistake or the sign was broken or had missing pieces, then they are not required to give it to you at the price.  That does not mean that in today’s social media age angry customers cannot post to the masses that someone is welching on their advertised pricing.  The bad PR of that and making angry customers may have some managers choosing to honor the price during the time it was advertised incorrectly but for gas, I would not count on it.  You’ll have better luck at your local Shoprite with mispriced cheese.

In the end, the consumer has to prove that the business had the “intent to mislead” for them to be held to false advertising standards.  Well, I tried!

This is how much gas cost the year you started driving.

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

These guys don't have to worry about gas prices whatsoever.

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