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Shell Stations Charge Debit Cards Higher “Credit” Price Florida Class Action

Shell Oil Company refines and sells gasoline and other petroleum products, which are in turn sold at some 14,000 Shell retail outlets around the country. The Shell outlets are required to use Shell’s payment processing system. The complaint for this class action alleges that Shell uses a deceptive system of processing payments that results in customers who use debit cards paying more than they thought they were paying for gas.

The class for this action is all persons who paid for Shell gasoline with a debit card in Florida, between April 16, 2017 and the present, and who were charged a “credit” price that was higher than the “cash” price.

Although there are different ownership models for Shell stations or “dealers”—corporate, franchise, licensees—they all use the same Shell payment processing system.

One method Shell uses to encourage additional sales at its gas station is split pricing. Under this two-tiered system, gas is offered to customers at two different price points: one for credit and a slightly lower one for cash. Customers who look for discounts may favor Shell stations where they can get the discounted cash price for gas. Those using a Shell Card—technically a credit card—can also get the discounted cash price.

The problem highlighted in this complaint arises when customers use a debit card. Customers generally believe that debit cards are a form of cash payment, and they prefer not to have to go into the gas station to use real cash. But Shell charges dealers a fee for processing every card payment, even debit card payments.

The complaint puts it this way: “Shell’s deceptive pricing scheme encourages customers to use their debit card in order to obtain the lower cash price—in part due to the convenience of being able to pay at the pump. [Yet] Shell collects a payment processing fee from its Dealer every time a debit card is used in lieu of cash.”

The complaint quotes GasBuddy.com on a 2019 survey of the methods they use to buy gas. “Over half of respondents (51%) stated that they used a debit card as their primary payment method for fuel… A significant number of debit card users chose debit for fuel payments because they received a discount off of the credit card price on gasoline.”

Photographs in the complaint show the split pricing on offer on signs and pumps. The complaint alleges, “Shell’s pricing scheme is false, deceptive, and misleading to reasonable consumers who purchase gasoline with a debit card because, contrary to the expectations of reasonable consumers, Shell treats debit cards like credit cards, charging unsuspecting consumers the higher ‘credit’ price rather than the advertised ‘cash’ price.”

The complaint alleges violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices, among other things.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Shell Stations Charge Debit Cards Higher “Credit” Price Florida Complaint

April 16, 2021

Shell Oil Company refines and sells gasoline and other petroleum products, which are in turn sold at some 14,000 Shell retail outlets around the country. The Shell outlets are required to use Shell’s payment processing system. The complaint for this class action alleges that Shell uses a deceptive system of processing payments that results in customers who use debit cards paying more than they thought they were paying for gas.

Shell Stations Charge Debit Cards Higher “Credit” Price Florida Complaint

Case Event History

Shell Stations Charge Debit Cards Higher “Credit” Price Florida Complaint

April 16, 2021

Shell Oil Company refines and sells gasoline and other petroleum products, which are in turn sold at some 14,000 Shell retail outlets around the country. The Shell outlets are required to use Shell’s payment processing system. The complaint for this class action alleges that Shell uses a deceptive system of processing payments that results in customers who use debit cards paying more than they thought they were paying for gas.

Shell Stations Charge Debit Cards Higher “Credit” Price Florida Complaint
Tags: Charges in Excess of What Was Promised, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels