Check for $91.94 in the mail

Did you receive a check in the mail for $91.94 recently? Well so did I. These checks from Scharfstein v. BP WCP LLC are part of a suite against ARCO gas stations as part of a multi million-dollar class action settlement that affects nearly two million people, mostly from Oregon. I’m not from Oregon, but I have filled up in the state several times. I actually have quite a beef with Oregon state legislatures on another topic, which I will outline below that you may find interesting.

Check for $91.94 in the mail from Arco settlement

Oregon lawyer David Sugerman brought the class action on behalf of customers who were charged an extra $.35 cents for debit card transactions, an amount that wasn’t advertised at the pump. I’ve always had an issue with this fee at ARCO stations because a debit card should act like cash, not credit.

According to court records, BP (British Petroleum and franchisor of ARCO stations), continued to charge the fee over 10,000 times a day, even after the lawsuit was filed in 2011. In 2014, a jury trial found BP had violated the Unlawful Trade Practices Act, so damages were increased, meaning customers will likely see another check for $91.94 in 2020, bringing the total close to $184. 

Unfair Gas “Tax” in Oregon

If you’ve never been to Oregon before, you may not know that it is illegal to fill up your vehicle with fuel. The extremely liberal legislators in the state don’t think residents are capable of fueling their own cars, presumably without spilling. The legislators passed a law many years ago forcing fuel stations owners to employ people to fill up customer cars. The problem is, these people have no special training, nor are they required to get any sort of certification to pump gas. So, what makes these fuel attendants more qualified than you and me at pumping gas…nothing. Nothing at all! Legislators think residents are stupid, why else would they pass such a ridiculous tax burden on to its residents? I know this for a fact as I have asked attendants questions about their training and certifications and they laughed at me, telling me there is no such requirement. I tried to call several legislators for a comment, but none returned my calls.

Unfair Gas "Tax" in Oregon

I should clarify, there is no official “tax” being levied, but rather the unnecessary labor costs are being passed down to the customer in the amount of $.10-$.14 cents per gallon. Now, even if there was pressure to revise the law, lawmakers won’t do it because it would look bad…they’d have to fire 10,000s of thousands of unnecessary employees. To make matters worse, not only are customers paying a few extra dollars every time they fill up, but they also lose valuable time of their lives. By the way, don’t think for a minute this is “full service” and that these gas pumpers will be ready when you drive up to the pump.

What are your thoughts on this $91.94 settlement? Or, of the law making it illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

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Mike Shubic

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Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.

58 Comments

  1. Mike, you are mistaken about the reason for not being allowed to pump one’s own gas in Oregon. It is just a retention of they way things were done across the country. As technology allowed stations to replace employees with card readers and pump controllers, Oregon refused to allow the loss of thousand of entry level jobs. It does not make the cost of gas more. Gas is way more in neighboring states that have self-serve. Oregon has, however, relaxed the law for smaller towns during the off-hours.

    1. Gas is only cheaper than other states because Oregon doesn’t charge the sales tax that other states do. Taxes are made up in other ways, such as property taxes, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison. The same argument could be made that blacksmiths should have been kept around after the horseless carriage came about because they’d studied hard to get their positions. Artificially keeping jobs that aren’t needed around is a drain.

      For example, the voters in California voters were so gullible they kept the largest single gas tax hike added and now we get the news stories show up about the rising cost of gas and shrugs how it happened. Given the past where California has routinely stolen the hikes for the roads the past few times for other uses and anecdotally my road is as bad or worse than ever, I have no expectations they’ll actually use the money to where it was promised.

    2. It is as Mike asserts “more expensive” because there’s no way you can employ more people at a fueling station and not have higher costs which results in higher costs to the consumer. Yes, Kelly’s right that this is a “full employment act for non-skilled workers”, but as someone who grew up in Grants Pass (Oregon), I can tell you that it’s irritating beyond belief not to be able to pump my own gas when I come back (I live in Washington now). There are exceptions for motorcycles and classic cars, but I can also tell you that the only time I’ve spilled gas on myself was when an attendant handed me the nozzle when I was on my motorcycle and we had a little problem with the hand-off that caused me to wear gas from Ontario to Burns. This is less than ideal. If I’d handled the nozzle myself, that definitely would not have happened.

      1. Gas is more expensive in Washington than it is in Oregon. I’ve lived in both states in the past year. Seattle/Bellevue gas is a dollar more per gallon than Eugene, OR.

        The gas attendants adding cost argument isn’t holding up.

        1. You actually can’t make that comparison, you have to look at the cost that is being paid for the fuel and the local/state taxes. The actual cost of fuel in Washington may in fact be more than Oregon, but that is irrelevant. Using your logic, fuel in California is more than both WA and OR and they don’t have forced full service, they have a different state tax basis. What I’m saying is that gas in Oregon is more than it should be, $.12-.15 cents per gallon more because you have to factor in the extra cost of labor. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

  2. I posted once, but meant to add, it is even more unconscionable that businesses, especially gas stations, charge 10 cents per gallon more for customers using credit cards.

    1. That’s actually pretty fair…they have to pay a fee to the credit card companies. If gas is more than $3/gal, they are probably making less than if someone paid cash. Gas station owners don’t make that much money on fuel, most profits come from the other stuff they sell.

  3. I normally fill up at the Seven Feathers Casino gas station in Canyonville Oregon, and it’s always self pump there. I can’t comment on the rest of the state with any certainty.

  4. I got this check in the mail today for $91.94 and I live in california. I then googled cuz i had no idea why i received the check and found this page. it was several years ago that i pumped gas in oregon . Not gonna complain though : )

    thanks for publishing this story!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Very similar for me as well…I live in Arizona, and have not been to Oregon in several years. You bet, glad I could be of help. Cheers, Mike

  5. Isn’t ARCO still charging more when you use a debit card? Why wouldn’t they stop doing it after losing this case?

    1. I think so, but the issue in Oregon was the fact that the fee was not displayed. And/or people could not see the advertisement for the fee because someone else is filing up your tank since it is illegal in Oregon to do it yourself. One of the other.

  6. I’m a female senior citizen and I’m glad someone comes out in a cold, blustery rainstorm and pumps gasoline into my car for me.

    1. I agree. I also don’t like to leave my car. To much weird stuff happening and I’m no longer 10 foot tall and bullet proof!! Once you get old you become a bit of a target.

  7. I’m a female senior and I appreciate someone coming out and pumping gasoline into my car in cold, blustery, rainy Portland weather.

  8. I’m an Oregonian, and I love the fact that we don’t have to pump our own gas. Instead of an attendant sitting stationary in a booth watching the clock tick backwards, the attendant is outside, running and hustling around, filling tanks (and when it’s not too busy, they’ll usually wash your windshields as well–they might even get a tip for that!), and getting some exercise. It rains a lot here. Very nice to not have to get out in the rain. I bet a survey would show most Oregonians love it as well. Has nothing to do with legislators thinking we’re too stupid to pump our own gas. When’s the last time a gas station attendant cleaned your windshield, Mike? It’s kind of nice. A service station. Remember those?

    1. I bet if people had a choice, they would pick lower gas prices. All stations are under cover, so rain is really not an issue. Regardless, I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      1. I admit I have mixed feelings about not pumping my own gas. The rain in OR often comes in sideways and it’s a mess. However, when I drive out of state I feel like an idiot having to ask for help bec I’m not used to it. I would rather pump my own for a lower price tho, for sure.
        Thanks for posting this. I got the check bec I used to use ARCO, but I did think it was a scam.
        PS…OR is the most fiscally mismanaged state I’ve ever lived in, and I lived in few over the years.

        1. Hey Barbara…thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and experiences. You are not alone thinking the check was a scam. Glad I could be of help. Yes, most States run by Liberal politicians are poorly run. No one seems to appreciate fiscal responsibility. Anyhow, all the best, Mike

    2. Honestly, I don’t get why people don’t at least get out when it’s busy and run their own payment. I think it’s ridiculous that people expect to pass along their PIN or zip code when the attendants are paid to pump gas not be your maid so you can be lazy and sit in your car for the whole process. So instead our lines are far longer than they should be.

  9. I found my way to your blog because I was a tad suspicious of my $91.94 check, too. But I do buy gas at an Arco station in Portland from time to time. So perhaps I do deserve my windfall. Thanks so much for publishing the explanation.

    Regarding your irritation with having to pay a little extra to have someone pump your gas, I can only point out that Oregon, along with New Jersey, and Huntington, NY are the only places where this charming tradition is still honored. When I was a child, one purchased gas at a “Service Station”. Now service stations are gone, replaced by gas stations with convenience stores. https://www.myimprov.com/states-dont-allow-pump-gas/

    Milton Berle show ca 1950.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrMIZgYr4Kk

    Another typical Texaco commercial of the era:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f984Pt8tmms

    Enjoy!

    1. Hi Silenus, thank you for stopping by. I know what ya mean, I too was quite suspicious about this check. I’m so glad I wrote about it to help others who are questioning it. When I was a kid, my uncle owned a real service station, so I too remember the days when there was an options. Thanks for sharing the links… very entertaining. All the best, Mike

  10. I got a check too. Would have been nice to have the info without the projected delusional conservative nonsense.
    Everyone gets enough of that on the news these days, thanks.
    If you don’t like Oregon gas stations because your conservative’s greed makes you worried about spending an extra $1.50 each fill-up, feel free to stay away or, you know, get an electric car.
    The liberal states are the only good states in the country, for many reasons, which is why intelligent and moral people move to them and not from them, unlike the conservative States.
    Conservative fiscal responsibility has been proven to be a complete fraud, applied only as sabotage against liberal spending when they lack power. We see now, undeniably, that conservatives are more than willing to throw any amount of money at any issue (real, imagined, or utterly misrepresented) as long as it aligns with their twisted self-interests, but unwilling to put any money at all towards things that help others.. and the country.. and the planet.
    I could go on and on and on but this probably won’t be posted anyway and even if it is, conservatives have a great way of deflecting and spiraling further and further down the rabbit hole of denial and delusion so they never have to risk damaging their fragile egos by admitting they’re wrong and causing untold suffering and destruction and stagnation in the world.
    And, obviously, conservatives also helped the Russians successfully pull off a coup to install a treasonous authoritarian narcissistic personality disordered sociopath into the highest office in the entire world, who is not only bringing about a Civil War and destroying the government, economy, country, and the environment, but also wasting tens of trillions of tax dollars on counterproductive, immoral, and very often illegal bullshit in the process.
    So.. yeaaahhhh.
    Unless and until a few dozen million conservatives do the right thing and kill themselves in shame and disgrace, or at the very least admit that they’ve been horribly wrong in almost everything they’ve said and done for the last 50 years and beg forgiveness and do their best to make reparations, it’s just staggeringly pathetic and laughable for them to complain about anything or anyone, especially something as embarrassingly materialistic as paying $0.10 extra for gas because you don’t understand or don’t agree with the law…a law that’s been around an awfully long time now…without opposition…because we Oregonians like it.
    You wanna be stupid/greedy/prideful enough to smell like gas and inhale toxic fumes and put people out of work just to save $5/month, feel free.. we’ll continue laughing at you and shaking our heads and hoping you’re just passing through.

    1. lol…I don’t know what you’re talking about regarding “Conservative nonsense,” but you are entitled to your opinion. I honestly think your diatribe is nonsense, but I appreciate you stopping by.

  11. I prefer to have attendants pump the gas. I don’t like getting out and pumping gas when the weather is bad and don’t like handling the gas pump itself, there is always gas residue which lingers and is hard to get rid of. Maybe some people don’t notice as much but I am very sensitive to gas fumes. I’m not a woman but understand for women there is a security issue about getting out of their cars so can understand why they might even be more concerned about having a person at the gas station. I don’t even mind paying a few cents more for the service, obviously it’s an extra cost and I understand that, just as long as we’re not overcharged for the service. Sorry, I know a lot of people want to pump their own gas but not all of us do.
    BTW I just got one of those checks also, hence the reason I stumbled onto this blog. I rarely use my debit card so can’t believe I’ve been over charged anywhere near what I’ve gotten in this check so while unexpected, it’s not unwelcome.

  12. Hi Mike, I received a check and wanted to know why and if it’s safe to deposit. Self serve or not used to be relevant to me and I loved not having to pump my own gas. I never believed our gas prices in Oregon were much different than anywhere else in the country. I like the idea more real people have jobs. (I never do self check at the grocery store either.) Well, I guess I have some competing values because I’ve been driving all electric since 2013 and will never go back to an ICE vehicle.

    1. Hi Valerie…that’s Big Data for you. Who knows. I have not been in Oregon for years and somehow I got a check. According to my research, we should get another one next year as well.

  13. I do not wish to have diesel or gas or boogers from the last person on my hands, therefore I have zero desire to pump my own gas, I am completely content to stay in my vehicle and listen to some tunes whilst someone takes care of it for me .

  14. Hi Mike, I too received the mysterious $94.91 check recently. having moved to California three years ago, a ‘settlement’ check from Oregon was really odd. My question is, is this a deposit only check, or can I cash it at, say, Safeway? I live 45 minutes from my usual US Bank.
    Thanks for all your info. Stop by Rough and Ready sometime during your travels. Interesting spot on the road, no gas stations though. Sorry.

    1. Hi Cecilla…congrats. A check is a check, you can deposit or cash, your choice. I would recommend mobile banking, I simply take a photo of a check and deposit it into my account. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. You should have seen the hilarity that ensued when I (unwittingly) pumped my own gas back in 1989. I was new to town, had no clue about the law, and had a full tank in my Toyota (a good $10 worth!) before any attendant came out. It wasn’t until I told my grandfather later about the attendant’s odd reaction that I found out I was supposed to pump! That’s all I have to share, plus I got my check yesterday.

    1. Hi Julie…haha…I too have been caught pumping my own fuel. It’s second nature unless you’re from the area. Glad you got your check! Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  16. From what I’ve read on the internet you can only deposit the check or write to them to send you another check to be cashed if you don’t have a bank account. It actually states on the check: This check may not be cashed at a check cashing agency or money service business.

  17. I actually had thought this refund was a result of the $.35 surcharge that Arco charged because a person used a credit/debit card, not the fact that someone was pumping the gas for me. I remember when this first came out that refunds would be coming because of this. Had I misunderstood?

    1. The $.35 fee IS for using your debit/credit…not pumping gas. It’s not exclusive to Oregon. I think the issue is that Arco did not properly advertise the fee, and/or because in OR since someone is filling your car, you can’t see the advertisement. Not entirely clear on that.

  18. I just got a check like yours for 91.94. We were in Oregon in 2011 on the way from southern California to Washington and back. I was totally surprised, but glad for the money. Thanks for letting me know what it was for.

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