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Shopping Around For Best Gas Price Proves Good Strategy

Posted May 14, 2004

— Drivers frustrated with the spiraling cost of gas are looking for any way to save at the pump.

Consumer advocates say to shop around. A look at some hard numbers should make Triangle residents heed that advice.

There was a time when $1.79 per gallon was not a cheap gas price. These days it is.

The Servco on Western Boulevard in Raleigh offered that price Friday. But staff said the price soon will go up.

"I'm a college student, and I really don't have that much money to put in my car for gas," John Coleman said as he gassed up. "It's just ridiculous, man. The prices shouldn't be that high."

A couple of blocks away, on Hillsborough Street, the price was 11 cents higher -- $1.90 a gallon at a station across from Meredith College.

"I really never understood why it would be so different," driver James Henderson said. "You can sometimes go down the road, and it will be maybe a cent or two different from this gas station to the one down there. So, I guess I'll stay on this side."

Staying on the right side of the map can make a big difference. An Internet search showed the average price for a gallon of gas in in South Raleigh was $1.82. In North Raleigh, meanwhile, the average jumped to $1.87.

Chapel Hill and Durham had the highest averages, at $1.89. In Youngsville, in Franklin County, the average dropped to $1.81.

The average cost Friday in Clayton was $1.82. But gas station employee Mitch Freeman said: "I think it's going to go up a little bit more."

The Mission Valley 66 station paid $1.80 a gallon wholesale. Credit purchases cost them three cents on the dollar. The price per gallon on their pumps Friday was $1.84 a gallon, so they lost money on customers' credit-card purchases.

Freeman seemed a little bothered that stations a couple of blocks away were charging more.

"Well, I guess they're just out to try and make money," he said. "I mean, we're out to make money, too. But we don't want to hurt anybody, either."

Although the lower prices are painful for many, the numbers showed people can reduce their pump pain by shopping around.

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