Misleading gas ‘cash only’ signs at Scripps Ranch

CBS 8 found a station in Scripps Ranch that is charging an extra 40 cents a gallon.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A lot of gas stations charge more for credit cards and most customers understand the charge because the gas stations pay a fee when they are used.

But how much is too much? CBS 8 found a station in Scripps Ranch that is charging an extra 40 cents a gallon.

The big sign in front, the one in the landscaping, and the one up high all show gas is $5.55 a gallon with the word “cash” in small letters. However, if you use a credit card at Sinclair Gas on Scripps Summit Road and it’s a big difference.

“It definitely suckers you if you don’t look closely,” said Ryan Donnelly. “But if you have to fill up, you have to fill up.”

Donnelly filled up with Diesel, which is 30 cents more a gallon. Regular unleaded is 40 cents more.

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre calls this gas station’s actions ridiculous.

“Don’t use trickery and don’t use misinformation to get people to come into your station,” said Aguirre.

Aguirre believes the gas station knows people are struggling with higher gas prices and is luring them in with the hope they don’t notice the price difference.

“Some people might not even realize it until they’ve already put the gas in their tank,” said Aguirre.

Employees declined to talk on camera but defended the move by saying their credit card price is like other stations in the area, and they’re simply offering a huge discount for cash.

But Aguirre calls that absurd because the station charges debit cards at the pump the same price as credit.

“We all know that cash is king, but a debit card is cash and if the person knew that they could go in, use their debit card and get cash and come back and pay cash,” Aguirre said. “So that, to me, is an even more egregious situation.”

The gas station does have one sign that flashes the credit card price, but it’s only up half as long as the cash price.

Not a surprise, customer Elyse Zarek totally missed it.

“I don’t really carry a lot of cash on me…so that stinks,” she said.

Aguirre hopes customers will file a complaint with the city attorney’s office because just the threat of an investigation usually gets businesses to stop these types of practices.

“If everybody does that, you tear away at the very special fabric that we have as a society, and you destroy trust.”

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