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New Motto at Shell California Gas Stations: ‘Gift Cards Welcome, Extra Charges Guaranteed!’

Posted by John Donovan: 18 Jan 2024

In a move that’s less ‘filling up your tank’ and more ’emptying your wallet,’ Shell is now starring in a class action lawsuit. The allegation? Their gas stations have a peculiar habit of charging those who use a Shell gift card the credit card price for gasoline, instead of the cash price. Because who doesn’t love a surprise surcharge with their gift card?

Here’s the fun part: California civil code, clearly a document Shell uses as a coaster, states that any gift card sold after Jan. 1, 1997, should be redeemable for its cash value. So, in theory, these gift cards ought to be valid for the cash price at Shell stations. But theory and practice are two different things in Shell’s world.

The lawsuit eloquently states, “Despite selling a gift card that, by law, is the equivalent of cash, Shell fails to honor the cash rate when using the Shell gift card to purchase gasoline.” It’s like going to a magic show, but the only trick is your disappearing savings.

Whether you’re using this modern-day ‘cash equivalent’ directly at the pump or through an attendant, don’t expect to get gas at the cash rate. Shell’s price policy not only waltzes over the civil code but also jives with California’s Unfair Competition Law, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and apparently leads to a little something called unjust enrichment. Who knew?

The California class isn’t just sitting back and watching their wallets deflate. They’re asking for compensatory damages, statutory penalties, restitution, an order to stop this Shell price policy, and attorney’s fees. Because when you’re up against a giant, you might as well swing for the fences.

Wrapping up this legal drama, the class action lawsuit adds, “Shell’s deceptive scheme is in contravention of the law and has cumulatively resulted in millions of dollars of damage to California consumers.” But hey, what’s a few million dollars among friends, right?

So next time you’re at a Shell station, clutching your gift card, remember: it’s more than just a piece of plastic. It’s a ticket to Shell’s magical world of ‘extra charges.’ And they say there’s no such thing as a free ride!

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