November 21, 2013

Used a debit card to buy gas? There may be money waiting for you

PORTLAND, Ore. – A class action lawsuit has been filed that involves anyone who bought gasoline at an Arco or AM/PM mini-market station in Oregon the past couple of years.

It's all about the extra charge for using your debit card. Those fees are at the center of the lawsuit that includes millions of people.

The suit is aimed at British Petroleum. In Oregon, the company sells gas at Arco and AM/PM stations. The lawsuit claims the company doesn't do enough to let you know about the 35-cent charge for using your debit card to buy gas.

The charge itself is not illegal in Oregon, but state law lays it out pretty clearly: a sign on the pump showing the charge is part of what's expected. But the charge also has to be visible on the bigger price signs, like the ones out on the street.

David Sugerman, who filed the lawsuit, says BP hasn't been doing that. So he wants to get people their money back.

"Either the amount taken or $200, and we'll ask the court to enter a series of orders that brings BP into compliance with the rules," Sugerman said during an interview with KATU News.

All that has yet to be worked out in court. A trial is set for January.

And in case customers want to take it out on the station owner, it's not their fault. That's because BP sets the prices and charges and tells the owners how to post them, or from Sugerman's point of view, not to.

"Oregon consumers first discover the problem when they go to pay," he said. "And BP has this business model. BP is nickel and diming consumers. That's a problem."

To get money from the suit, customers would have had to have used their debit card to buy as at Arco or AM/PM from 2011 to August 31 of this year.

BP has not responded for a request for comment on the lawsuit.