Gas prices drop, fuel surcharges don't

Some businesses continue to charge the fees they put in place when gas was more than $3 a gallon, despite the fact that gas now sells for less than $2 a gallon.

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CARY, N.C. — 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."

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.