PORTLAND, Ore. — The Arco am/pm in Woodburn is charging $6.69 per gallon for regular unleaded, roughly three dollars more than the statewide average.
“This is crazy. This is absolutely crazy,” explained Chris Lemieux, who had no idea how much he was paying for gasoline until it was too late. Lemieux’s $90 fill-up at the Arco in Woodburn on Monday was nearly double what he normally pays for gas.
“That was our lunch,” said Lemieux. “Pretty messed up.”
Not only do customers complain gas prices are outrageously high at the Arco am/pm in Woodburn but they’re not posted out front. There’s a big banner over the price sign.
“That’s pretty deceptive,” said Lemieux. The Arco am/pm sits adjacent to Interstate Five in Woodburn. Across the street is a Chevron gas station which advertised $3.69 per gallon for regular unleaded.
Several customers at the Arco didn’t realize the price until KGW reporter Kyle Iboshi warned them to check their receipt.
“I think I just got screwed,” said a driver named Brian after noticing he paid $6.69 per gallon. “I think that’s pretty unbelievable.”
Price signs not required
In 2021, KGW investigated similar complaints about high gas prices and price transparency at the Arco in Woodburn.
In Oregon, gas stations are not required to post signs on the street for passing drivers. Instead, they just need to display prices on the pump for each grade of fuel — which the Arco am/pm in Woodburn does.
Of course, Oregon is also one of only two states in the U.S. where an attendant pumps the gas for you, with some exceptions. So unlike at a gas station in neighboring Washington, for example, you aren't necessarily going to get out and look at the price on the pump.
Records show that over the past two years there have been 51 consumer complaints filed with the Oregon Department of Justice about the Arco station in Woodburn. Of those complaints, most involved claims of charging an excessive price. The complaints were quickly resolved, records show, because in most cases gas stations can charge whatever they want.
“We do not hide or ‘cover up’ our fuel prices and we are not trying to deceive anyone. We show our current fuel prices as required by law,” wrote Arco am/pm management in an unsigned letter to the Oregon Department of Justice on December 7. The letter was written in response to a consumer complaint. Attorney Michael Mills, who represents the Arco am/pm in Woodburn provided the letter to KGW.
“Our station is a franchisee of BP Arco (Corporate), and is charged much higher prices by BP Arco for the fuel that we buy from them than they charge other Arco stations in the area,” the letter said. “This makes it necessary for us to charge more than neighboring stations in order to stay in business. We have asked BP Arco repeatedly for their justification of this discriminatory pricing to us, but they will not respond. Other Arco stations may have lower prices, but we are not treated the same by BP Arco as other Arco stations.”
For consumers, the best advice is to confirm the price of gasoline before filing up.