Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image Gas price dropped morals image

(Cars were reportedly backed out into the street while waiting to fill up at the intersection of Grey Rock Estates and U.S. 72 at a Shell station in Abbeville)

July 11, 2007
Index-Journal staff writer 
ABBEVILLE — Word always travels fast in a small community. But when that word is that a local gas station is charging 29 cents for a gallon of gasoline — which is exactly what happened Tuesday afternoon — excited calls quickly began to circulate via cell phone.

That’s when business at the store in question really picked up.

Traffic crowded the store’s parking area and cars were reportedly backed out into the street at the intersection of Grey Rock Estates and U.S. 72.

Suddenly, there was a logjam at the Shell station. A simple mistake made during a normal price change resulted in entire tanks of gas being filled for the yesteryear price of about $3.

Shell station employee Jamie Barbee was working behind the counter. “The whole parking lot was full and the road was backed up,” Barbee said. “It looked like everybody in Abbeville was in here.”

A customer walks in and asks Barbee “pumps not working huh?” “Not anymore,” she said. “Someone called and asked if we had 29-cent gas up here. I thought it was strange, but I didn’t know. There were a lot of people filling up their tanks on like three and four dollars worth of gas.”

The station is one of seven in the area operated by Greenwood Petroleum. Carol Cheek — general manager for Greenwood Petroleum — said she was alerted to the mistake by a vacationing employee who called in to say “something’s bad wrong” at the station outside of Abbeville.

Cheek, an Abbeville resident, was devastated by the news. She wasn’t undone by the fact that an employee had made a mistake. Those things happen. She was distraught by the fact that so many local folk — people she is sure she has looked to face to face — had not only taken advantage of the station’s misfortune, but had called others to join in.

Cheek equated the act to looting private homes after a disaster. “They were calling people on their cell phones and saying ‘come get some’ and people know that’s wrong,” Cheek said. “It just says something about the moral decay in this country that people would do this. “And this didn’t happen in some big city. These are hometown people that did this. It’s like looting. You’re taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune. I don’t know about these people, but my integrity is not worth a $40 tank of gas.”

Cheek estimated the station lost several thousand dollars in profit. She added gas retailers only make around four cents’ profit on a gallon of gas.

Later Tuesday afternoon another car pulled up to a pump. It had two adults and three children inside. The adult in the passenger seat looked at the price on the pump — no doubt checking to see if the rumors were indeed true — then looked back and speaks to the driver, who steps on the gas and drives away. Cheek says this is what most disturbs her about the incident. “I mean what are people teaching their children?” and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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