A Smithtown Mobil station that sparked regional to use their credit cards rather than cash has pushed the gap even higher.
As of Thursday, the Mobil at 819 West Jericho Turnpike was charging an extra $2 per gallon, making the credit price $5.59 a gallon.
The cash price, at $3.59 a gallon, is significantly lower than the area average, where most local gas stations are charging between $4.05 and $4.11. And it's that discount that had customers lining up Thursday morning.
"I saw the price and did a U-turn," said Smithtown resident Cesar Garcia, who added he was shocked when he pulled in and saw the price for credit.
"I'm paying cash, " he said, "but I was just updating Gas Buddy with the credit price. This is crazy."
In fact, every person Patch spoke to Thursday morning was paying with cash.
A clerk at the store who asked not to be identified said the manager would not be in until later, but added that he was just doing what he was told.
"We get a call from the head office to make the price and I change the sign," he said.
The owner of the Smithtown Mobil could not be reached for comment on Thursday morning. His manager said he would be out of town at an industry convention until May 1.
The Smithtown Mobil was not the only station with the newly boosted price gap Thursday. Locals on social media were posting photos of the Gulf Station at 1395 Veterans Highway in Islandia and the Citgo Station at 3200 Veterans Highway in Bohemia, each with the exact $3.59/$5.59 price disparity.
In an interview last month, Michael Watt, the executive director of the Long Island Gas Retailers Association, , though he decried huge pricing gaps as being counter productive.
“It’s illegal to charge for the use of a credit card, but it's perfectly legal to offer a cash discount,” Watt said.
But state Sen. Kenneth LaValle saw the outrage as a need for new legislation and said he .
“The law as written forbids charging consumers a surcharge for the use of their credit card,” LaValle said. “Because the statute is unclear, retailers have been charging higher prices for credit card use but maintaining that the cash price represents a discount,” he said in March.
Drew Biondo, spokesman for the senator, said LaValle introduced that bill on March 15.
Essentially, it all boils down to buyers beware, said another customer in Smithtown on Thursday.
"If people are silly enough to pay that price, that's their fault," he said.
Stay tuned for updates.