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Indianapolis Star: Clerks are bearing brunt of gas rage: Stations urging consumers to remain calm

By Tim Molloy
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Tempers are rising along with gas prices. Gas stations across the country report that drivers are taking out their gas rage against big oil by yelling at clerks and cashiers and sometimes driving off without paying.
 
“Everyone is suffering at the same time,” said Sam Shirazie, a clerk at a Chevron station east of downtown Los Angeles.

No detailed statistics are kept on incidents of gas rage. But the National Association of Convenience Stores said anecdotal evidence indicates they have increased since prices began climbing in February.

Employees of Fleming Corp., which operates 14 gas stations in Kansas and Missouri, have heard everything from “just a mumble-grumble kind of thing to a cheap shot or blaming the clerk for world oil prices,” owner Ed Roitz said.

Division manager Ron Davis hears complaints firsthand.”I don’t want to repeat some of it. They’ll talk about the blankety-blank oil companies.”

The convenience stores association advises store owners to ensure that employees understand the costs associated with gas and encourages them to explain to customers that in some cases they aren’t making any profits despite the soaring price of fuel. Retailers make about two-thirds of their profits from items inside the store, he said.

Steve Grosse is trying humor. At his Shell station in Manhattan Beach, he replaced the price of gas with the words “arm,” “leg” and “first born.”

In Los Angeles, Chevron station co-owner Anthony Sinai has started giving free sodas to customers who pump $20 worth of gas. He wants to avoid a repeat of an incident last year when an upset customer threw a cup of coffee at a female clerk.

Copyright 2006 IndyStar.com. All rights reserved

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