Gas stations charging more for credit: Is it legal?

What to look out for when it comes to filling up

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - It has probably happened to you.  You fill up at the gas pump, swipe your card and notice the fill up costs you more than you thought.

Some stations across South Florida are charging you more to fill up when you use plastic at the pump.  But is it legal?

The Contact 5 Investigators have received dozens of emails from people claiming they're getting overcharged at the pump and the Department of Agriculture says they're getting more complaints about it than anything else.

"Everybody's in an uproar about it," said state gasoline inspector Danny Marcum.

"It's not right, it really isn't," said driver Jack Saxonhouse.

Saxonhouse said after swiping his card at a station in Lake Worth, he noticed something that had him fuming.

"When I looked at the machine, the price was completely different from what was posted," he said.  "There was a difference of about 8 or 9 cents a gallon," said Saxonhouse.

"With credit, the station itself is getting a processing fee," said Marcum.

Some stations are choosing to pass those processing fees onto you.

"They try to get it wherever possible, so they can increase their profit lines," said Saxonhouse.

Turns out, it's legal because the state doesn't see it as charging you more for credit.  Instead, they say the stations are giving you a discount for using cash.

But, if a station's posting cash prices, they have to post the word "cash" on the sign on the side of the road. But some drivers say that's what's misleading.

"When we drove by I could not see it," said Saxonhouse.  "It's also covered by a palm tree," he said.

As we found, the signs are often off to the side, in small letters, or blocked from street view.

"The money's not the issue, it's the principle," said Saxonhouse.

In the past year, the state issued 14 violations to stations in our viewing area for pricing and surcharge problems.  Fines can be anywhere between $500 to $5,000 if it's not corrected right away.

If you suspect a gasoline problem, you can report it by calling the Department of Agriculture toll free at 1-800-435-7352 or online at petro@freshfromflorida.com

To watch the Contact 5 Investigators original story looking into contaminated gasoline that shut down the pumps at two local stations, click here .

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