At this particular Sunoco station, a regular gallon of gas was $3.57 if paid with cash. Add $.10 per gallon if using a credit or debit card. Confusingly though, a glance at the sign revealed little information of the price difference, and customers went as far to accuse Sunoco of misleading customers.
"Now I'm going to be buying plus the price of plus for regular," said Ben Blannard of Avoca. "That's not right."
The sign at the Sunoco gas station along South Main Street in Pittston was among the most ambiguous. In extremely small print that was barely visible, prices for cash and credit/debit replaced the former "regular" and "plus" grades. Though regular and plus still burned brightly through the white paper covering them.
Repeat emails and phone calls to Sunoco's media department in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon and evening were not returned.
Eyewitness News sent Sunoco the below email mid-Thursday afternoon seeking comment:
"We are trying to figure out an apparent new policy that was rolled out at some Sunoco stations in Northeastern Pennsylvania where prices on signs now reflect cash payment prices and credit card payment prices. The prices on the signs historically reflected regular and mid-grade gasoline costs.
The below photo was taken at a Sunoco station on Wyoming Avenue in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania this afternoon.
Does Sunoco have a response to claims the sign is misleading and borders on false advertising?
And can you provide information on when the company authorized passing on credit card charges to customers?"
An Eyewitness News viewer questioned why some Sunoco gas stations still had large signs that read credit card payments were accepted without a surcharge.
"I don't like it," said Barb Blannard. "I mean everything's going on credit and debit. Nobody has cash anymore. That's not right."
A recent court settlement cleared the way for companies, like Sunoco, to begin passing credit card surcharges along to customers.
So far, Sunoco seems to be the lone company advertising a price differential between cash and credit.
At a Turkey Hill down the street from the Sunoco in Pittston, the gas station had regular, no matter the type of payment, selling for $3.65 a gallon - comparable to the price at Sunoco.
Efforts to reach operators of most of the Sunoco stations were unsuccessful. One operator who returned a request for comment defended the swipe fee saying it's the only way he can turn a profit off a gallon of gas.