Jill McMahon needed gas. Her car was running low on fuel, so the Tigard woman pulled up outside Woodburn.
The Chevron station closest to Interstate 5 had a tanker truck blocking customers, so McMahon drove down the street to ARCO AM / PM.
The ARCO gas station had a large blue banner that said “OPEN 24 HOURS” covering its external price display.
“I drove specifically to look for the reader’s painting, but it was covered up,” explained McMahon.
After filling up at the Arco gas station, McMahon said she was shocked by the price.
“It was almost twice as much as needed to fill Portland,” said McMahon. “I was shocked. This seemed wrong. “
Dozens of other customers also complained that they were taken aback by high gas prices at the Woodburn Arco gas station.
“I think it’s a bad business model,” said client Grant Hardy.
Hardy explained that he had no idea how much the Arco post was charging for gas until it was too late.
“I was like,‘ Dude, stop! ‘Because I realized the price was rising,” said Hardy, frustrated by the lack of price transparency.
Online review sites like Yelp and Google are full of notices about the ARCO gas station in Woodburn. There are unpleasant comments about the price display being covered, along with photos of expensive receipts.
On March 29, KGW discovered that the ARCO gas station in Woodburn charged $ 4.38 per gallon for normal unleaded fuel, compared to $ 3.25 per gallon on a nearby Chevron and $ 3.29 at Shell.
On the driver’s side, this reporter could not see the price displayed on each gas pump and there were no prices posted up front.
Government records show that last year there were 59 consumer complaints filed with the Oregon Department of Justice about the ARCO station in Woodburn. Most complaints involved charging an excessive price.
Michael Mills, a lawyer representing the ARCO gas station in Woodburn, declined to comment due to “an ongoing investigation by the DOJ”.
The Oregon Department of Justice declined to comment on the pending investigation.
State records show that Mills responded on behalf of the ARCO station to consumer complaints filed with the Oregon DOJ.
In a letter, Mills explained that Woodburn ARCO is a franchisee of BP ARCO and is charged much higher prices for fuel it buys from companies than other ARCO service stations in the area.
In addition, Mills noted that prices are displayed on each pump for each type of gasoline, which is all that is needed.
Mills noted that Oregon law states, “A retailer is not required to display prices charged for motor vehicle fuel.”
“That’s the law,” explained Marie Dodds of AAA Oregon. “Oregon gas stations are not required to put signs on the prices of the fuel they sell.”
Dodds explained that there are also no federal requirements. Instead, there is a patchwork of laws across the country.
“We have different laws and regulations in different states and sometimes even in different cities, so it can be very confusing for consumers,” explained Dodds.
For example: New York it requires gas prices to be disclosed so that they are clearly visible to any approaching car. Maryland has a similar mandate. Prices must be legible for passing drivers.
Orlando, Florida it also requires gas stations to put prices on the streets, including specific mandates on the size of capital letters.
Although there are no requirements in Oregon, most gas stations voluntarily advertise prices to passing drivers.
“Everyone’s prices are on their reading panels up front,” explained McMahon, who wanted ARC AM / PM in Woodburn to do the same. “I will definitely pay attention now.”