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Fred "Rerun" Barry once commented here.

January 27th, 2002

Pay for Air?!

Explain this to me: why do some gas stations actually charge for air?

The other day, I had a tire that needed some serious inflating, so I drove to the nearest gas station to refill. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t have made it further, because this particular gas station charges 50 cents for air. It’s a concept that blows my mind and surprises a lot of people I mention it to, despite the fact it’s becoming a common practice. Generally, as a matter of principle, I’ll go a mile out of my way if it means I get free air. That’s the type of guy I am.

Gas station managers might argue, “it’s to pay for the equipment.” Bull. If that’s such a valid argument, why is this a trend that’s only taken hold in recent years? I have yet to see a water fountain at a movie theatre that charges for water. The theatre sucks up the cost, and I think gas stations should do likewise with air.

I propose that Congress should pass a law that disallows anyone to charge for any of the five elements. Except for metal. That one might be tough to get by.

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday January 27, 2002 -- 12:35:35 am
Well, it's not just air you're paying for. It's pressurized air. I like to get it free, but fifty cents is hardly a king's ransom.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Sunday January 27, 2002 -- 2:17:21 am
But that's two games of Pac-Man!

FROM: Gas Girl
DATE: Sunday January 27, 2002 -- 5:46:53 am
Just pay your fifty cents and shut up!

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday January 27, 2002 -- 10:32:39 am
Looks like someone woke up cranky this morning....

Ryan, I couldn't agree more. Charging people for air is wacky; the practice I've seen a lot of lately is charging fifty cents to "non-customers", and nothing to customers.

FROM: fresh
DATE: Sunday January 27, 2002 -- 5:08:54 pm
doesnt a child die every minute from AIDS in Africa? im gunna have to agree with rob on this to just pay the 50 cents and get on with your life. if fate chose it you could have been born with AIDS and no car to pay 50 cents to put air in to your tires...think about it

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday January 27, 2002 -- 7:03:37 pm
Aw, fresh, I love when you're on my side. :-)

FROM: fresh
DATE: Sunday January 27, 2002 -- 8:56:03 pm
no prob got ya back on this one rob

FROM: Matt
DATE: Monday January 28, 2002 -- 12:25:21 am
While a lame attempt at comparing apples and oranges to affect the senses seems like it will work, this is the Ping. We Pingers see through that lame type argument. It's almost as gripping as when someone begins calling people names during debates.
AID's, while a crisis has nothing to do with Ryan's 50 cents and or pressurized air. Unless they want to set up a air-fee will be donated to AID's crisis agency. That would then make that a good argument.

FROM: Dave
DATE: Monday January 28, 2002 -- 1:01:06 am
What's a TIRED :)

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Tuesday January 29, 2002 -- 4:31:55 am
California state law mandates that /customers/ receive free compressed air and water services. If you don't buy anything else (like gas), they can charge.

FROM: tbone [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday October 18, 2004 -- 7:06:32 pm
It's completely ridiculous to charge for somethig that has been free in the past until the imposed .25 /.50 cent charge. Since they have finally created a law regarding this, Gas station owners are now saying that if they give free air then people will just come there for that and will crowd the parking lot for people who want gas. That statment in itself is pure stupidity.

I recently went to three different gas stations in my area that have supposedly free air. 2 out of the 3 did. The first station complied with my request because "I was not aware of the rule" so go ahead. The 2nd station was no questions asked a obliged with all the free air i wanted. The 3rd station refused even though before I asked the attendant, I had already purchased five dollars worth of merchandise. That's not good enough though, you need to purchase gas he says. What's the difference? five dollars is five dollars. They haven't heard nor seen the last of me.

The point is, why settle for less. When something used to be free and now you have to pay for it, there should be a good explanation for it not just "that's how it is" because believe me, if you say yes to this then the next thing will be that we will be required to pay for water from a drinking fountain .

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Tuesday October 19, 2004 -- 12:33:05 pm
I drive out of my way to get free air. I do empathize with the gas stations, however. Free air was given away back in the days when you made money on gasoline sales. Now, the money really isn't in gas anymore, it's in sales of groceries, believe it or not. That's why you hardly see a station that just sells gas anymore. They hardly service cars, even, like they used to. Giving away free air is a bit of a vestige of a time when the gas station was more appropriately called a service station.

As for maintenance, lots of people drive over the air chucks and ruin them. How many times do you go to get air and find that the air chuck is broken? That costs money to repair.

Nevertheless, my heart is with Ryan. it just doesn't seem right to charge for air. But my biggest complaint is, they don't charge you for air, really, they charge you for running the compressor a finite amount of time. I usually run out of time before I've topped off all four tires (it's very clever and convenient for the gas station that you often have to move your car to get at all the tires because of the short air hose). Thus, I usually have to pay a dollar to do all the tires. You think with all the money they're making, they'd put a long enough hose on the stupid thing.

Further, if I have to pay the gas station to give me air, then I should get paid to use the vacuum, right? Doesn't it suck air back out of the interior of my car (along with old french fries, potato chips, old receipts and even some small change)? But you don't actually pay for air, just a few minutes of the machine running, whether it's a vacuum or a compressor.

Last, if maintenance really were the issue, then the pay air stations should always have equipment that works, right? Well, the free station up the street always works and the pay station often is down. Once, the machine stayed broken for an entire summer--which highlights the true problem: a lot of stations just don't want to be bothered, even at fifty cents a pop. The fifty cents is really a deterrent aimed to keep you away.

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