“We’re Getting Ripped Off On Gas!”

Pamlico County motorists complain of wide disparity in fuel prices

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Brandon Pipkin, Chris Grose, Bobby Cahoon, and others who contributed their first hand accounts to this story.

GASOLINE PUMP – There is no price in the USA more prominent than those shown on fuel pumps. In fact, the digits brazenly appear on large signs, easily seen from area roadways. Most industry insiders familiar with the pricing strategies of today’s mega chains cite competition between outlets as the biggest driver of low prices. 

The prevailing mantra goes something like this: More pumping stations in a given area – which is what New Bern offers – will always trump rural, end-of-the road locations where a dearth of refueling spots typically exists. 

In a recent voice message left with this newspaper, local motorist Brandon Pipkin hit the nail on the head, accurately describing the frustration of others: “Please do an investigation as to why gas prices in the county are so much higher than everywhere else. It has been like this for weeks now. New Bern and other places are like 40 to 45 cents cheaper, some places even 50 cents cheaper per gallon.”

Reached later, Pipkin said he had gone so far as to contact the corporate offices of Speedway.

“I told the lady, that I am a loyal customer (Grantsboro) and I’m not getting gas there anymore, and I live close by,” said Pipkin, adding “and I also told her ‘I know you’re losing business.’” The Speedway representative took Pipkin’s email address and “she even gave me a case number and they are supposed to get back to me.”

Chris Grose, home on a break from his job with the Merchant Marine, expressed similar sentiments. “Today (May 8) Speedway had it for $3.59 in Grantsboro, while the Neuse Road location in New Bern had it for $2.98 – that’s a 60 cent difference. Think about all the young families in this area trying to get by on minimum wage!” 

Even successful business owners in Pamlico County are complaining. Bobby Cahoon and his wife Teresa oversee a large fleet of dump trucks, heavy equipment, “and a bunch of pickups.” Cahoon called on a recent morning, after “returning from a trip to Weldon and all over eastern North Carolina. No where did I see the type of prices we are paying here. These gas and diesel prices are killing me. And, from what I can tell, Speedway is the worst.”