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Higher gasoline prices in Marshall irritate customers/Slater, Carrollton, Waverly, Sedalia all have lower prices

Thursday, September 7, 2006

After a story about gas prices ran in The Marshall Democrat-News on Thursday, Aug. 31, the paper received feedback from Marshall residents about the issue. The main concern was the fact that Marshall gas prices are consistently higher than surrounding towns.

A check on the gas price finder at the American Automobile Association Missouri Website (www.aaamissouri.com) confirms this.

According to the Website, the average price of a gallon of unleaded in Marshall was $2.55. The average was taken from the price totals of 11 Marshall gas outlets. This average was higher than for any other city searched including St. Louis ($2.44) and Kansas City ($2.48).

The Marshall prices were considerably higher than other towns in the area, including 16 cents higher than Slater ($2.39), 17 cents higher than Carrollton ($2.38), 18 cents higher than Waverly ($2.37), 13 cents higher than Boonville ($2.42), 6 cents higher than Sedalia ($2.49) and 17 cents higher than Lexington ($2.38).

In fact, during a search of various towns across the state of Missouri, Marshall's average gas price proved to be the highest average found. While not a complete search, an extensive list of Missouri towns were researched.

Many factors go into the retail price of gasoline, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, including the price of crude oil, federal, state and local taxes, refining costs and profits and distribution, marketing and the retailers markup. Some stations are owned by the refiners and others are independent. These independent stations purchase gasoline for resale. The price on the pump is a reflection of the wholesale purchase price and other costs including operation of the station and other factors like location, marketing and local market conditions.

Calls to local gas outlets to ask about the prices were often directed to corporate headquarters. Other owners were unavailable for comment.

Even chain stores such as Casey's and Breaktime saw a 10 cent and higher difference in price between Marshall and other cities.

This leaves Marshall consumers wondering, "Why the difference?"

"Something smells kind of fishy when all the Marshall gas vendors are within a penny or so of each other but still 15-20 cents higher than surrounding towns," Dennis Clemons of Marshall said, "I'm not buying the 'transportation costs' argument either. It's not like we're in the middle of nowhere. The main north-south road in the state goes through town and the Interstate is 10 miles away."

Many consumers are frustrated and wonder why the prices are higher in Marshall

"In my opinion someone is certainly taking advantage of us," said David Roscher of Marshall. "If there is a valid reason why there is such a difference in gas prices from just a few miles down the road -- I'd like to hear it."

In fact, many of these consumers travel to other towns to purchase their gasoline.

"My wife and I went to Slater and filled up," Roscher said. "It was $2.39 there as opposed to $2.55 here. I doubt if we saved much, if any, but there's also principle involved. Besides that it was a nice drive for us." Roscher said.

Clemons said that he travels to Waverly and Carrollton a lot and he takes the chance to buy gas when he is at those communities.

"For 10 cents a gallon difference, I'll buy anywhere but Marshall." Barb Trapp of Marshall said.

Consumers are frustrated and feel helpless to do anything about prices that they see as unfair. Some, like David Roscher have tried to let their feeling be known.

"I've e-mailed and contacted corporate offices of Breaktime and Casey's in the past about the difference in gas prices between Marshall and Slater and no one took the time to respond, so that makes you wonder if they really care or not," Roscher said.

Trapp said that the only thing you can do is "complain to the owners and drive to another town to spend your hard-earned money."

Consumers each deal with Marshall's higher gas prices in their own way. Some, like Roscher, try to let their feelings be heard. Others protest with their wallets by purchasing their gas at other places.

"The country has been gouged hard enough by the big oil companies and our government," Trapp said, adding, "We don't need our local vendors taking advantage of us at the same time."

Contact Zach Sims at

marshallbusiness@socket.net



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