Gas prices drop, fuel surcharges don't

Posted December 22, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

— Although gasoline prices have dropped by more than $2 per gallon in the last three months, many of the fuel surcharges that businesses put in place to offset high prices remain in effect.

The Blossom Shop in Cary, for example, has maintained its delivery fee at $9.95 – $1 more than it charged last spring – because of the slow economy, owner Julie Barry said.

"Now that the gas prices have started to go down, we did not lower our delivery fee," Barry said. "With the economy the way it is, we're a luxury pretty much, so people aren't sending flowers like they used to, or they're not spending as much as they used to."

taxi Businesses still collecting fuel surcharges

Some taxi services began asking customers last summer for an extra few dollars for gas. Similarly, limousine services tacked on a fuel charge of as much as 8 percent, and airlines charged fliers a 7 or 8 percent surcharge for jet fuel.

Most of those charges remain in place, despite the fact that gasoline is now selling for an average of $1.63 a gallon in North Carolina. In mid-September, after Hurricane Ike knocked Texas refineries offline and sparked gas shortages, gas hit a record high average of $4.085 a gallon in North Carolina.

"We would hope they would go away, just for the sake of making travel less expensive, but I think we have to get used to fuel charges being here a while longer and maybe forever," said Tony Maupin, owner of Maupin Travel in Raleigh.

Holiday travelers weren't pleased to hear that Monday.

"I'd like to save a lot more money," traveler Jim Groves said. "It's not costing them as much to fly the airplane because their fuel charges are lower."

UPS and Federal Express base their shipping rates on the price of fuel, so their prices have dropped with the pump price in recent months.

Many cruise ships also have wiped out fuel surcharges.

But Barry said she needs the extra $1 on her delivery charges to make up for slow business in the current economy.

"Our expenses are still high," she said.


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  • anne53ozzy Dec 23, 2008

    I work for a company that is traded on the stock exchange and is a provider of propane in this state. At this time, we do not charge a fuel surcharge for deliveries. However, I would like to point out that the increased cost of petroleum products may not have been adequately adjusted for in advance of the sharply upward trend of the market months ago. This may be why certain businesses continue to charge this fee. Similarly, natural gas prices are falling but we will continue to pay a higher rate, see DOE website, until the cost of purchasing gas at a higher rate is absorbed by the consumer. Metered services such as natural gas, water and electricity are better able to "hide" increased cost from consumers. I am not suggesting intent. These cost and market issues are readily available on the internet. I am proud of the company I work for and wish all consumers would (those who can) do the homework before accusing us of unfair practices.

  • superman Dec 23, 2008

    Flowers are indeed a luxury-- somethingI can well do without-- that is unless I am dead! Most grocery stores sell flowers that are nice that can be be delivered personally and be well received by the person you wish to honor.

  • twc Dec 23, 2008

    Well, we should thank FedEx and UPS for their professional integrity!

    Thank you FedEx and UPS!

  • nobama Dec 23, 2008

    When a business charges a "fuel surcharge," to me it's a red flag. If this airline or business is going to lie about this, what else are they lying about? What other hidden fees do I not know about until I get my bill? How else am I being cheated? How will this business harm me? Will they steal my credit card number to sell to a second party? Will they attempt to steal my identity? Will they bill me and never deliver my flowers? Will I have to call the police or sue this business in the future?

  • PlanetX Dec 23, 2008

    "...This seems to be an easy fix. Simply deal with those that don’t charge the surcharge. Be an educated consumer. Ask about fees before you purchase. If people keep buying and paying the fees, businesses have little incentive to drop the charge."...
    Another Perspective

    Gee, thanks for that priceless little pearl of wisdom. Now, when you find a freight carrier who does NOT have a fuel surcharge, you let me know and they will become my EXCLUSIVE carrier. In the meantime, product has to move and they have us over a barrel (no pun intended) AND they know it. FSC will not be going away any time soon.

  • braddyg Dec 23, 2008

    She runs a flower shop in Cary...I'm surprised she didn't raise the delivery fee. Pretty self-righteous of her, but then...

  • PaulRevere Dec 23, 2008

    How much did WRAL pay her to admit this? OMG!

  • meh_whatever Dec 23, 2008

    She needs to drop the fuel surcharge and increase her prices on the actual goods by some small margin, to make up the lost profits.

    Her customers would rather pay a dollar more for the actual flowers, than a dollar extra for the fuel that is no longer so expensive. That's just mental, what she's doing.

  • Justin T. Dec 23, 2008

    My proposed change to the Blossom Shop policy manual: Do not talk to the media.

    I can't imagine the statement printed in this article will generate anything but negative feelings and less business. I know that I wouldn't choose a business that says they are a "luxury" and are keeping their prices high because the economy is bad.

    When the economy is bad I would think you'd want to get that "we are competitive" message out there.

  • Methuselah Dec 23, 2008

    Apparently, businesses are now taking lessons from the politicians: whenever you create a tax, never remove it, even if the original reason for the tax has disappeared.