Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman is proposing a bill to change how gas stations post prices for credit and debit card purchases.
To be introduced later this month, the bill will call for gas stations to display prices for credit and debit card purchases in addition to prices for cash purchases. That way, he said, consumers won’t be caught off-guard at the pump when the price of gas suddenly increases when they pay with their cards.
“People will be lured into a gas station by the street sign,” said Mr. Schneiderman, whose bill would require stations to replace their old street signs with new ones. “The least these places could do is post a warning.”
Co-sponsored by Legislators Kara Hahn and William Lindsay III, the bill will come before the Government Operations, Personnel, Housing and Consumer Protection Committee meeting on July 23 at the Suffolk County Legislature.
Earlier this year, the legislator proposed a bill that would have required gas stations to display a prompt on the screen at their pumps to inform customers of how much extra they would be paying if they used credit or debit, much the way an ATM alerts a user of service fee charges. That bill remains tabled in the legislature.
Mr. Schneiderman said he is passionate about this issue and is determined to get some kind of bill passed because many gas stations charge as much as an extra dollar per gallon for paying with credit or debit. “Imagine if every time you went somewhere, there were two prices,” he said. “Even a dime starts to hurt.”
People in the gasoline retailers industry, however, do not support the legislator’s suggestion. Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said that replacing a large street sign can cost up to $10,000, something that would hurt small businesses like his station, Performance Fuels in Smithtown.
Mr. Beyer said that the prices for credit and debit payments are already displayed in three different spots at the pump: above it, on the center display, and sometimes on a digital display. He also said that putting the credit and debit prices on the street signs might confuse customers, because up to six numbers may be displayed.
Mr. Beyer added that not all gas stations charge extra for credit or debit use. Because it is not an industry problem, he said, it should be handled with individual retailers.
“What he’s trying to do ... is hurting small business,” Mr. Beyer said of Mr. Schneiderman’s bill. “The consumer knows when they pull into a gas station. They have to be aware of their surroundings. Nobody is trying to hurt the consumer.”
“This is totally unfair,” he continued.
Despite opposition from those in the industry, Mr. Schneiderman said he believes this bill will make it out of committee and have more support from the legislature than the initial one did.
“I think the timing’s good,” he said. “I really think it’s the right thing to do.”