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Can using credit or debit cost you more?

Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 12:55 PM EDT

When it comes to gas prices these days, you've probably seen stations
charging several cents "less" per gallon if you pay with cash - versus paying
with credit.  And New York State law says they are allowed to do that, and offer
a "discount" for the cash price.
        
But what if you choose to pay at
the pump - using your debit card?
        
It is a check card, meaning
it's just like cash coming out of your bank account - but it also carries with
it a swipe fee, commonly associated with a credit card.
        
A viewer
brought this question to CBS 6's Dori Marlin, who did the legwork to get The
Bottom Line.  She took a debit card to two area gas stations, to swipe and see
just how the prices ring up.

First, Dori hit the Sunoco station on
Western Avenue, near Route 155 in Guilderland.
        
The sign on the
pump said it cost $3.98 for a gallon of regular if you pay with cash - $4.03 for
a gallon of regular if you pay with credit.

Dori swiped her debit card -
and was charged the higher credit price.

Next, she drove up the road to
another Sunoco station in Guilderland - this one on Western Avenue, at Carman
Road.

The prices there: $3.99 for a gallon of regular if you pay with
cash - $4.05 for that same gallon if you pay with credit.

Again, Dori
swiped her debit card - and this time, was charged the lower cash
price.

So what gives?!

Dori took the question to Ralph
Bombardiere, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Service
Stations:

"Is there a right answer of how it should be
charged?"

"It kinda falls right in the middle," Bombardiere responded.
 "The debit card carries with it a 2% hit as far as the charge for processing -
the other cards, they carry a little bit more.  It all depends on the dealer,
whether he wants to eat that - or he wants to give that to his
customer."

In other words - each station owner can decide whether they
force you to pay more and cover the swipe fees, by charging you that higher
credit price - or, if they just lose that 2% per gallon.

Senator Betty
Little of Queensbury sits on the chamber's Consumer Protection Committee, and
was unaware of the issue until Dori brought it to her attention.

"Does
that seem fair to you?" Dori asked.

"Well, you really have to make sure
that you notify people of this.  That's the biggest issue," Sen. Little said.
 "I think this has really just come up because there is the ability now to
charge swipe fees... so it's actually buyer beware, for sure."

Dori then
put this question to Sen. Little: "Would you be willing to sponsor legislation
this coming session, to increase signage... to notify consumers what they're
going to be paying?"

"Absolutely," Sen. Little answered.  "If they're
having a differential in price, they should have signage so that people know
what they're paying and not get caught in this."

Dori will be staying on
state lawmakers to make sure they move forward with legislation, that will help
protect your Bottom Line at the gas pump.Can using credit or debit cost you more?


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