Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RV Fuming

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have a gas problem. Unlike most people I don't need Gas-X. I can't get enough gas. My motorhome has a 75 gallon tank. The problem is, most gas pumps will only give me $100 dollars worth of gas before shutting down. I'm throttled at the pump. I took my frustration out on an attendant and she told me it was the card company. I called the card company and they told me it was the merchant. I know the old saying, "The buck stops here," but my buck stops at 100 and I find it very frustrating. My wife tells me to, "Just get over it." I know I shouldn't let minor details bother me so much. I'm retired, have all the time in the world, move slower than I used to, but I can't get my mind wrapped around today's gas prices and the fact I can only buy 25-30 gallons at a time.

There was a time that I supported a wife, two kids, a dog and a mortgage on less than $100.00 a week. Now I can't even fill my gas tank. Help me Doc. I need some couch time.
--Fuming in Flagstaff

Dear Fuming:
It is a bit of a catch-22. The card company won't honor a fraudulent purchase over $100 dollars, so the merchant is only trying to protect himself by making you swipe twice so that no one swipes his gas once. You can go into the station and let them swipe your card. That action is considered like any other large purchase and allows you to put one large dent in your balance with one quick swipe. With your size tank you can consider other fueling strategies. Using online gas pricing information makes it possible to save considerable money by not filling completely until you find a real bargain. Smaller rigs with smaller tanks often have to make a purchase every two or three hundred miles.
Other than that just decide if it is better time management to go inside and have a short visit with the attendant or swipe a couple times at the pump. At today's price that could be three swipes. It is more expensive to go inside if you have a hard time getting past the coffee and donut counter.

Another suggestion is to go to the several online RV forums and study the fuel strategies of others. One important lesson is to keep your foot out of the carburetor. I would also suggest you stop taking your frustration out on the attendants. Like your wife, they are just laughing at you.

--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


The Good Luck Duck said...

Some truck and RV-friendly stops (Flying J, for example) don't throttle you at those lower dollar amounts. I just figure those extra 40 seconds are 40 seconds we're not burning gasoline.

Anonymous said...

I was told by one station when fueling to request cash. Then let the attendant fill the tank and hand him the card. That way, one swipe and one time filling. It has worked for me many times.

Anonymous said...

You can also use a second credit card to finish filling your tank.

Ralphie Boy's Eclecticion said...

I used to feel the same way, early in our motorhome traveling days. But, life is too short for me to get irritated at a gas pump and especially at an attendant earning minimum wage. Relax and smell the roses, or fumes, as the case may be.

Unknown said...

Most of the places I've been will not accept the second swipe of the same card. I either have to go inside, or use a second card (which I've gotten used to doing). Love's and Pilot have higher limits, around $150.

Tim said...

I've learned to swipe twice when I went full time in my 35 gallon Camper Van three years ago. If I was gasing at a place that charged the "extra fee" for using my debit card I'd go inside and ask the clerk to turn on the pump again and not charge me again the fee.....never had it turned down....BUT I had to leave my card which really bothers me, but I make sure I get their name. I also let them now in a pleasant way that I'll be watching my account online for any activity.
Once after traveling to Ohio from California, on the way back in Wisconsin, I swiped twice and a half hour later got a computer call from my bank that they had received "unusual activity" on my card/account and locked it. I called back immediately and after about 20 minutes was connected to the right person. They told me my card had been used twice in quick succession and it was now locked and could not be used. After much explaining and info giving they unlocked it. Quite a hassle for me at the time but later I was glad they had such a good security proceedure. I just wondered why they had not caught the same thing 200 times before....LOL

Buffy's Bus said...

I try to plan my fill-ups at Flying J if at all possible since they do not place a limit on the sales amount at the pump. Between the 5% cash I get back on my credit card for fuel purchases (but only for "at-the-pump" payment) and the 3 cents per gallon discount that Flying J gives me, I save a lot of money on the 1000 or so gallons of diesel fuel that we use during our 3 1/2 to 4 month summers away from Arizona. If I do have to get fuel where there is an at-the-pump limit, I just get as much as they allow and move on.

Wolfe said...

Here in NY, most pumps still turn off every $50... with $4 gas, that means 3 swipes every time I fill my Suburban, or 2 just for my Subaru CAR. It's a special annoyance, since other states seem to at least allow $75 now. My solution is to pull into a station with two open pumps, run the card twice simultaneously, and put both pumps to work filling twice as fast/much. Surprisingly, Discover has never questioned this (maybe two pending charges doesn't flag like two rapid ones? Backwards security I would think!)

The other thing I'll do when I AM towing is to carry 4-6 five-gallon tanks to double my 300mile range when towing. This has often helped out when I simply couldn't get the trailer into a station safely, too, allowing me to carry two of the tanks out to the truck while my wife fills the next two at the pump.

Anonymous said...

I find this very frustrating as well! When I first became aware of this problem, I was still working and driving a van with a 35 gal. tank that I filled 2 or 3 times a week for my business. The card I used at that time had a $20K limit and the pump wouldn't let me charge more than $75 at a time. I always paid this card off each month and didn't carry a balance forward, so I also complained to the manager of the station where I filled most of the time by my home. They told me it was the credit card company and the credit card company said it was the merchants policy, which is the one I chose to believe. I then talked to the manager again and explained that if they didn't change their way, I would take my business elsewhere, which is what I ended up doing, but I still used that same credit card.

Tomharg said...

Many places in the Northwest will take your card (inside) initially charge whatever limit your tell them to charge (I often say $125 when diesel prices are high and I need to fill most of my 35 gallon tank). When the pumping is done, either the system then charges the card the actual amount, not the maximum amount I provided, or I go inside and they give me a refund slip for the remainder (which is happening less and less). This is all because a few bozos have no qualms about doing the equivalent of a "drive-off" and leave the retailer with the loss. As usual, it is the few &#*@)s that leave the rest of us with a pain in the @&$!

Erik's RV Blog said...

The stations near me only allow the card to be swiped ONCE so if my wife is following we're screwed. Or if I have to put more than either 75 or 100 I can only swipe once. Some don't even do the swipe inside, they tell me sorry, only the allowed amount.

Maybe it's Illinois, I'm not sure since this state sucks in so many other ways too numerous to put here.

If they raise the gas prices I don't understand why they don't raise the allowed amount on one swipe. If (more like when) gas hits 10 bucks a gallon this is going to be a real problem.

Anonymous said...

Just use CASH, problem solved. Works for me.