The other day while I was at Costco topping off my gas tank with the last gasoline priced under $4 in the future history of humankind, SDXB happened to go into the Costco on his side of town for the same purpose.
He paid $3.86 a gallon.
Say what? I paid $3.93 a gallon: a seven-cent-a-gallon difference! Same day, same time of day, same retailer.
Only difference as far as we can tell is the demographics. My Costco is a ghetto store that serves a downscale clientele in a tough part of town. His Costco, located on the booming westside, caters to the upper middle class and a large, relatively affluent retirement community.
Why, one might ask, should low-income customers have to pay seven cents a gallon more than people who can afford an extra ding at the pump? Beats me. Only thing I can figure is Costco must figure us pore folks are too dumb to know better, too lazy to drive across town to get a better price, or too broke to run our cars far enough to get out of the ‘hood.
This has long been so of grocery store prices: they’re always higher in areas where many of the customers don’t own cars. A friend worked as the manager of a ghetto grocery store, and he reported that they jacked up prices across the board because they had a captive audience of people who either could not or would not drive further afield to buy food and household products. Maybe Costco does the same.
Message: If you live in a downscale area, consider driving to a more affluent district to seek better prices.
4 Comments left on iWeb site
I noticed that same thing about grocery stores long ago.Touristy areas also always charge an arm and a leg, too.
It’s good to know, though, while planning your purchases. I often bring non-perishables on vacation just to avoid that type of gouging as much as possible.And if you need gas and are going to see SDXB or have to be in the other Costco area anyway, you can do your fill-ups there.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 – 08:38 AM
A Costco representative came to my business awhile back to sell memberships, and she they do price the gas individually.Basically, people go out in the morning in the immediate area and compare the local prices so they can price just below all of them.
But as some areas are more expensive than others, two Costcos in my city that are 30 miles apart will definitely have different prices.
Needless to say, I go to the “ghetto” Costco when I need gas.:-)
Thursday, June 12, 2008 – 07:27 AM
P.S.I realize this is the opposite than what you experienced, but it may have also been timing.
I’ve gone to fill up twice in one day for our second car at Costco, and paid a different price!
Thursday, June 12, 2008 – 07:30 AM
It’s true that in general gas prices are lower on the westside. That may account for the difference.
But we pay dues for the privilege of spending our money at Costco. That should buy us consistent and fair pricing across the board–not a gouge because we live in a downscale neighborhood a few miles away from a different neighborhood in the same city. That’s unfair and unreasonable.