LONG ISLAND - Some gas stations on Long Island are being accused of charging a substantially higher price for drivers using their credit cards instead of cash to pay for fuel.
Paying cash at one Sunoco station along Jericho Turnpike in Huntington costs "just" $4.89, but use your credit card, and you’re looking at a more than 40-percent increase to $6.95 a gallon.
Fewer drivers are carrying cash these days and the majority of them are frustrated when they fill up - this as the average price of a gallon of regular gas on Long Island topped $5 this week, according to AAA.
And experts aren’t predicting any relief in sight despite state and county fuel tax cuts that went into effect at the beginning of the month.
Agents with the Department of Consumer Affairs are monitoring some 350 gas stations in Nassau County for excessive credit card charges. So far at least one Shell station in Valley Stream was hit with more than $3,000 in fines.
"The typical credit charge to the retailer is about 3-5 percent," said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. "We found one retailer charging over 20%."
Meanwhile, in Suffolk County, a Sunoco station received violations as well.
"When you see prices like this that so far above what the cash price is, you enter an area of deceptive or unfair trade practices," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
For the most part, gas stations are able to set their own prices according to Kevin Beyer with the Long Island Gas Retailers Association.
"They’re going to try to be competitive because they want to take care of their customers," he said.
Legally all gas stations have to post their cash and credit prices - and some stations even offer the same price for both. Advice from officials, as the consumer you can choose where to go - avoid places that charge exponentially more.
"Pull into one location, look at prices, if you’re comfortable with them, drive out and go to another location because sooner than later that dealer will feel it," Beyer said.
Gas stations that may be charging customers more can be reported to the NY AG’s office or your local department of Consumer Affairs.