BP “answers” complaint about “grade gap”, too little too late?

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about how I typically fuel up at BP and recently became frustrated with their new mark-up scheme on mid-grade and premium gasoline. Their “grade gap” (also known as the difference in price between grades) HAD been nine cents (3.90/3.99/4.08) for as long as I could remember. About a month ago, I noticed it jumped to eleven cents (IE 3.90/4.01/4.12). Since I pump premium in one of my cars, this became frustrating, especially with no other large chain pulling this kind of crap behavior with pump prices FALLING.

A week ago I noticed that most the BP stations I mentioned had dropped their grade gap back down to ten cents (3.90/4.00/4.10). What I don’t understand is why they must target those who require midgrade and premium fuels. Midgrade and premium typically are a small source of additional profit for a gas station, so why did some BP stations target select consumers to rake in more money? I don’t think what they did is right- tack on a few more cents (four) to pay for their losses or whatnot.

While BP did a mediocre job listening, they still didn’t want to give in to their pricing they used a few months ago. As the market has fallen they’ve been enjoying profiting some days even off regular gas. I guess I simply don’t understand their timing for raising their grade gap.

I’ll be purchasing fuel somewhere else until the stations I previously mentioned go back to their “normal” nine cent grade gap. I would encourage everyone who needs premium and midgrade to shop at a station that doesn’t play with their margins like some BP’s did.

PS- I did some research about cars, and found that more and more cars require premium than ever before, contrary to some believing otherwise. According to Autoblog, 166 vehicle models required premium in 2002. This year that number is up to 282.



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  1. If you read the USA Today article that the Autoblog posting references, you’ll note that it uses the word “recommend”, rather than “require” (e.g., “premium is recommended”).

    Note what BMW says “regular is OK as long as motorists understand that engine power will drop off 3% to 5%, says spokesman Rob Mitchell.” If you can detect a drop in engine power of 3-5% without using instrumentation, you are pretty gifted (0-60 in 6.0 sec., rather 5.7 sec.).

    And most significantly:

    “Today, in virtually all engines out there, you could drop down an octane rating and probably not notice,” says Jack Nerad, Kelley’s editorial director. Engine computers adjust to eliminate ping that can come from burning less-potent fuel, but the motor also will put out less power.

  2. 9 Cents?! That seems cheap to me, in Hudson, MA we have a gas station where, as of last night, Regular was 3.71 and Mid-Grade was 3.89! This is not the only station with such a huge jump either, down the street is a Shell where Regular is 3.75 and Mid-Grade is 3.87.

    I just don’t get it.

  3. My Pontiac Vibe GT “requires” premium, so that’s what I put in. Quality in Grandville had $.08 pricing intervals, and you can put in premium at Shell on Tuesdays at a $.06 discount, usually $.14 more than regular.

  4. I noticed an 18 cent grade gap between mid grade and unleaded as well as midgrade and Premium – a 36 cent gap between premium and regular – at the local BP in HIllsborough, NC – I thought that I misread the sign!

    I know one place in Greensboro, NC that had no grade gap between the mid and premium prices — I understand that Mid-grade will normally be mid-way between Premium and Unleaded (most of the stations I visit blend the midgrade at the pump – half unleaded, half premium.)

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