The gas station at City and Belmont avenues was among about 50 Philadelphia-area Lukoil locations that advertised astronomical fuel prices on Wednesday, as owners protested the rates they must pay to their Lukoil corporate suppliers.
About 7 a.m., the City Avenue Lukoil showed prices of $7.77, $8.88 and $9.99 for its different fuel grades, manager Arun Joseph said. However, staff kept the pumps out of order, to stop unobservant customers from accidentally filling up at the steep rates.
"I've just been telling people, 'Today is not a day to buy gas,'" Joseph said. "I feel so bad about my regular customers—the state troopers, Channel 6, Channel 10." (ABC's and NBC's Philadelphia affiliate studios are just north of the gas station on City Avenue.)
Customers still kept the convenience store relatively busy in the early afternoon.
Joseph said the protest was a response to a meeting of station owners and Lukoil corporate representatives Tuesday. The company did not yield to the station owners' request for fairer prices that would allow them to compete better, the manager said.
Another objection of station owners was the practice of "zone pricing". NBC Philadelphia reported that Lukoil defended its "zone pricing" practice of charging different rates in different areas as "commercially reasonable".
The station resume regular pricing Wednesday evening: $3.89 a gallon for regular, if you pay cash. Joseph said he did not know whether another price protest is planned.