Westport Fill-Up: It’s A Gas

Last month, Governor Lamont signed emergency legislation — passed unanimously by the state Senate and House — suspending Connecticut’s excise tax on gasoline from April 1 to June 30. The state collected 25 cents per gallon.

The legislation says that retailers’ failure to reduce the per-gallon price of gasoline by that amount will be considered an “unfair or deceptive trade practice.”

Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell decided to see which local gas stations followed the rules.

He took photos of several Westport gas stations on the Thursday evening of March 31, then again on the afternoon of April 1.

The Shell station across from the Westport Country Playhouse dropped its prices by 25 cents …

Mandell says: “WCBS radio reports that stations pay the tax upon delivery of their fuel, so prices might not come down until the next delivery.

“Nonetheless, the majority of stations did indeed change their prices — some 20 cents, some 25 cents, some even 30 cents.

“Some did not change their price at all.

“What should also be noted is the difference in prices overall — up to $1 per gallon — and that some places have different prices for cash and credit transactions.”

Here are the stations in Mandell’s cross-section:

  • Citgo  $4.13 to $3.88: 25 cents
  • Cumberland Farms Hillspoint Road:  $4.13 to $3.93: 20 cents
  • Cumberland Farms Bulkley Avenue South: $4.13 to $3.93: 20 cents
  • Exxon: $4.23 to $3.93: 30 cents
  • Mobil: $5.27 to $5.27: no change
  • Phillips: $4.29 to $3.99: 30 cents
  • Shell downtown: $4.09 to $3.84: 25 cents
  • Shell Maple Avenue South: $4.87 to $4.87: no change
  • Sunoco Riverside: $4.29 to $3.99: 30 cents

… while the Shell near Maple Avenue showed no change.

17 responses to “Westport Fill-Up: It’s A Gas

  1. How the hell does that Mobile stay in business…folks continually pay over a dollar more per gallon than they would right next door…what a successful scam that Mobile has run for decades.

  2. Jack Backiel

    Maryland is doing the same thing. The state has a 7.6 billion dollar surplus. Gas prices here range from $3.67 to $3.99.

  3. Dan, congratulations on becoming the New York Magazine of Westport service journalism with this one. Nancy has a website for each station but great getting the big picture as well as fingering the miscreants!

    • Thanks, Bill. All credit goes to Matthew Mandell, for his shoe-leather work.

      As for the Mobil station, I’m not sure it’s highway robbery or a scam. They charge what they charge, and post it in large numbers. Customers are free to pay it, or not. It’s not like there isn’t another gas station up the block — or even next door.

    • Nancie Rinaldi

      What is the website you’re referring to? I’d like to check it out.

  4. Adrian J Little

    My office is directly across from the Mobil station in question and I see a steady stream all day of SUVs whose owners would rather pay $1.00 a gallon more for the privilege of not getting out of their cars and risk getting their manicures dirty.
    So – not a scam, not highway robbery just business!

  5. joshua stein

    The real question is how much profit is being made. By the oil companies, distributors, and the stations. I am going to guess they did not take one hit during the past couple months, and maintained their handsome profit margins.

  6. Bob Weingarten

    I was under the impression that the state .25 per gallon extra fee was supposed to be eliminated April 1, for a few months. If this is so, then the gas stations that don’t lower their prices by .25 per gallon are illegally profiting. Shouldn’t the state police give them summons? If so, the town should notify them on our behalf.

    • joshua stein

      Its widely discussed in several news articles. Per usual, someone made a law without giving any thought. Gas stations pay what they pay when the fuel is delivered. What if someone took delivery at 11:59PM March 31st and paid the .25 tax? Should the station eat it? Or should the state have provided a simple process for it to be tracked/corrected? But the argument could be made what happens in a couple months when it runs out.. do they increase by .25 the day it expires or when they take their next delivery?

      • joshua stein

        and seriously, jumping to calling for police to get involved? is this what we’ve come to as a society? how about understanding the whole picture before jumping to conclusions…?

  7. Jack Krayson

    State AG Tong is on the case. We’ll see if he moves ahead with prosecutions or just threats?

    • joshua stein

      on what case? is there a law stating what stations have to set their fuel prices at? some sell for a dollar over others. another good example: a couple years ago CT got rid of tax on diesel for marine use. most marinas didnt drop fuel price and instead simply pocketed the difference. that is $.50+/gallon. some boats take 500-1,000 gallons+ to fuel up. talk about robbery! easiest way to send a message? don’t give places business.

  8. David Chapman