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SACREMENTO -- California Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Eureka, introduced bill SB623 this week that would require gas stations to post any difference in price between what's advertised and what they charge.
"My goal with the bill is to make sure price differences are displayed adequately so that the customer makes an informed choice and is aware of the opportunity to save," Wiggins told The Times Herald.
The proposed state law, which is awaiting a vote on the assembly, is aimed at assisting consumers, who on average can pay an additional 3 cents a gallon when paying by credit or debit. On a $50 fill up, for example, those paying with cash could save nearly $2.
Consumers paying with credit or debit cards are generally charged a fee that's included in the advertised gas prices, which usually is between 1.5 percent and 3 percent per gallon. Gas stations are also charged 1.5 percent and 3 percent per gallon of gas in processing fees by credit card companies. The majority of gas station owners pass the extra cost on to customers often without their knowledge.
"I think that more people would pay cash if they understood how much money they could save," Wiggins told the paper. "And the money they save could be spent on food or other costs of living."
Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi, R-Lodi, a member of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations opposed the bill, claiming it's a burden businesses owners do not need. "It's a nanny type of law that's going to mandate businesses, and we don't want to increase costs," he told the paper.
If the bill were to pass, Wiggins said business owners would support it, as it would result in more cash payments which equates to less processing fees. It is estimated that convenience stores and service stations provide more than 75 percent of gasoline pumped in the United States. According to Jay McKeeman, vice president of governmental relations for the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, these operators lack bargaining power.
Operators "can't negotiate with MasterCard or Visa," McKeeman told the paper. "They figure out the fee, and you take it or leave it. You don't have to agree, but you'd lose 80 percent of your customers to their bully tactics."