Gas prices are hurting everyone across the country right now. According to AAA, the national average for gas prices as of March 23rd is $4.23. You can try to catch a break by braving the long lines at Costco or Sam’s Clubfor gas — or you can try to find a station that’s still “cheap”. Not everyone is able to sell gas for cheap or allow other stations to sell their gas for cheap though, as Fortune reports that two Wisconsin gas stations are suing their competitor because their prices are too low.
The two stations, one Shell and one BP, are suing the station of a local grocery chain called Woodman’s. In the suit, the stations allege that Woodman’s prices violate Wisconsins’s Unfair Sales Act. This law prohibits companies from selling goods below cost. For vehicle fuel, the law states:
For motor vehicle fuel, the definition of “cost” relies on either the “average posted terminal price” or invoice cost (whichever is greater) plus a cost of doing business markup.
Woodman claims that the company has an exemption that allows it to sell fuel as cheap as it does. Per Fortune:
Woodman’s says it is allowed to sell prices at that rate, due to an exemption from the Unfair Sales Act, requiring the company to notify the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection of the price drop, which allows them to match a competitor’s prices.
The competitor in question is the local Costco which is just over six miles from the Woodman’s station. Local news station WISN ABC 12 reported on March 18th that the Woodman station had a line of cars waiting to fill up while the BP and Shell stations had very little business. You’d think BP and Shell would just lower their prices to counter.
What’s wilder is that the difference in price that the stations are suing over isn’t much. The stations want $80,000 in damages but there’s only a $0.20 to $0.26 difference in the station’s prices. As of March 21st, Woodman’s prices were at $3.60 a gallon; Shell was at $3.86 and BP was at $3.80
Lawyers for Woodman say the prices are in compliance with state laws and the lawsuit is “without merit.”