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Station owner defends $4.25 gas price

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Think $3.99 is high for a gallon of gas?

Prices are even higher in several parts of the Cincinnati area, such as along Pfeiffer Road in Blue Ash, where a Sunoco station was asking $4.01 for Regular.

But the Tri-State's highest price right now just may be $ 4.25 a gallon for Regular at the Shell on Delta Avenue in Columbia Tusculum.

Gouging?

Despite nasty postings from drivers on GasBuddy.com ,  station owners Les Sturgill and Allyn Raifstanger insist they're not gouging.

"Our cost right now on unleaded is $4 a gallon, and that's our cost as retailer," Raifstanger  said. "We can't afford to lose money on this, we have other expenses we have to take care of."

But drivers are furious, several accusing the two independent gas dealers of gouging in the wake of a hurricane.

So the two are now  posting signs on their doors explaining why their price is so high.

Owners Explain High Price

The signs say they just paid $3.99 a gallon wholesale, and then have to pay tax and insurance on top of that. They say credit card swipe fees cost them another 8 cents a gallon every time a customer pays with credit.

"We employ people, we pay our insurance, we pay our taxes, we're citizens. But we're not allowed to make money on motor fuel,"  Sturgill said.

Sturgill feels the real blame should go to oil companies, who he says jacked up the prices in their tanker trucks before Tropical Storm Isaac.

"Maybe we'll have an earthquake in 6 months," an exasperated Sturgill said.  "Why don't we just raise the price now? It's going to tear the refineries up. Or maybe we'll have a war. Whatever reason they dream up, the price goes up!"

So Sturgill and Raifstanger are willing to deal with the honking and angry looks from drivers who see their big $4.25 sign out front. They say it's Economics 101: They can't afford to give away gas at a loss.

To find the cheapest gas near you, visit our interactive gas price map at http://www.wcpo.com/subindex/traffic/gas_prices .

As always, don't waste your money.
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