Gas station owner told to raise prices

MERRILL, Wis. – A service station that offered discounted gas to senior citizens and people supporting youth sports has been ordered by the state to raise its prices.

Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.

But the state
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says those deals violate Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act, which requires stations to sell gas for about 9.2 percent more than the wholesale price.

Bhandari said he received a letter from the state auditor last month saying the state would sue him if he did not raise his prices. The state could penalize him for each discounted gallon he sold, with the fine determined by a judge.

Bhandari, who bought the station a year ago, said he worries customers will think he stopped the discounts because he wants to make more money. About 10 percent of his customers had used the discount cards.

Dale Van Camp said he bought a $50 card to support the local youth hockey program. It would have saved him about $100 per year on gas, he said.


Anyone who has received the recent round of “Gas-Out” emails, please read below.

“A few years ago, March 2000 in fact, I came across an e-mail that was impossibly dumb. It called for a “Gas-Out.” The idea was to boycott gasoline for a few days. This action would drive the price of gas down, and at the same time, it would show “Big Oil” that if they tried to raise prices again, we’d hurt them…. If people want to protest high gas prices, there are things they can do. They can call for getting rid of gas taxes, for opening up drilling rights, for freely trading with all countries that supply oil, and for eliminating regulatory restraints on production. In short, they can call for a free market, the only means by which gas will end up being priced no more or less than it should be.”

Gas-Out Redux

The Path to Lower Gas Prices: Free Trade

Gas Prices Fact or Fiction: A Primer on Supply and Demand