Speedway gas stations and Common Core math

I’ve had mixed feelings agout the takeover of the old Hess stations in our area by Speedway.  On the positive, many of the stations have undergone nice upgrades; and that moon crater that doubled as a parking area at my local Speedway has finally undergone a repaving.

Speedway also offers a loyalty card, and depending on what you buy and how often you purchase it, you can acquire free foods and discounted gas.

But you need to watch out on the “discounted gas” part of the deal.


Last Wednesday, as I was preparing the Blackbird for the Thanksgiving Day turkey deliveries, I wanted to make sure my car had a full tank of gasoline.   And as luck would have it, I had enough loyalty points to snag a 50 cent/gallon discount at the pump.

Fifty cents a gallon off my fuel.  The last time I saw gasoline that cheap, I was in college.  And I don’t mean for a recent reunion.

I went into the Speedway station and scanned my loyalty card at a kiosk.  I received a coupon for the discount.  I went over to the cashier and asked about how to make this discount work.

“You have to prepay,” he said.  “How much do you want to buy?”

Hmm… Blackbird takes 11 gallons of fuel, at the discounted price of $1.68/gallon with the coupon, I should be able to fill that bad boy with $20 and have change.  I swiped my loyalty card, then swiped my credit card for $20 in prepay.

“Which pump are you using, and what fuel amount?”

I said pump 8, and 87 octane regular.

The cashier printed me a receipt, and then tried to explain something on the receipt.  I wasn’t sure what he was saying, because the only other time I’ve used fuel discounts, it involved Price Chopper’s AdvantEdge system at Sunoco stations – you know, buy the groceries, get the discount, swipe the card at the pump, watch the discount drop at the pump, pump the gas, pay for the gas, roll out.

No matter.  I left the store, returned to the gas pumps, and plugged the pump into the Blackbird’s fuel tank intake.

Hmm… pump still says $2.18/gallon.  Maybe Speedway does it differently than does Sunoco.  I started pumping the gas.

Everything seems normal.  And then, the pump slowed down.

And it stopped at $20.

I had arrived at Speedway with a nearly bone-dry tank, and I only received about 9 gallons of an 11-gallon fill-up.

I went back into the store.  Something’s not right.

The cashier then explained – in clearer terms than the first time – how the Speedway gas discount program worked.

“You pre-paid $20, right?”

Yes, I did.

“Well, you pumped $20 worth of gasoline, and once you hit that $20, we put the discounted difference back on your credit card.  So you got the discount.”

Say what?

“But I didn’t get the gas at the discounted price.”

“Oh yes you did, you pumped the gas and once you were done, we discounted the gas after you pumped and your credit card will receive the difference back.”

So here’s what Speedway did.  And you all need to follow along with me, especially if you’re using a Speedway loyalty points card to get discounts on gasoline.

Instead of getting the gas pumped at the pump at $1.68/gallon, Speedway pumped the gas at $2.18/gallon (prior to my 50 cents/gallon discount).  Once my prepay hit $20 at the higher amount, the pump shut off.  Then Speedway would rebate my credit card the difference in pumping costs, approximately $5 and change.

So I was NOT able to fill my tank at the discounted price.

“So what can we do?” I asked.

“Well, next time if you’re going to pump gas with the discount and you plan on filling your tank, instead of prepaying $20, you should prepay $50 or $60, that way you will have your tank filled and your credit card would automatically receive the difference back.”

I had to look for the Speedway operator’s name tag, because I swore his name was Willis and I was trying to figure out what he was talking about.

Again, follow me.

If I want to fill the tank with discounted gasoline, I must prepay at twice the amount it would cost to normally fill my gas tank, pump the gas, and then wait for Speedway to do the math and give me back the difference?

The cashier seemed peeved.  “I explained this to you before you pumped your gas,” he said.

Yeah, when you hear statements like that, your “swindle” siren starts screaming.  And yes, I used the tag “common core math” at the beginning of this blog post, and trust me, a generation ago I could have referenced the mnemonic of “new math” and you would have gotten the gist.

Well… I did get nine gallons at a discounted price, and that meant I would have plenty of fuel to deliver turkey dinners the next day, even if I had to drive to Tupper Lake to drop off food.  Trust me, the Blackbird gets some seriously swank fuel mileage.

But still … the gas discount program at Speedway needs some serious work.  It’s like going to the grocery store and having this exchange.

“Hi, I’d like to buy some steak.”

“Okay, it’s $12/pound.”

“I have a coupon for $9/pound.”

“That’s fine.  How many pounds would you like to buy?”

“Two pounds, please.”

“You have to prepay before I cut the steak.  How much would you like to prepay?”

“I’m thinking $20.”

“Okay, give me your money.”

“Here it is.”

“Okay, here’s your pound and a half of steak, and $5 back in change.”

“But I wanted two pounds of steak.  Wouldn’t two pounds of steak at $9/pound cost $18?”

“Well, if you wanted to do that, you should have given me $50 or $60 to get your two pounds and change.”

Yeah.  That sounds more accurate.

All right, Speedway.  I’ll work with this.  For now.  I’m not happy with this… but I’ll work with it.  Operational term – FOR NOW.

Next time I come in to get a heavy discount on my fuel, instead of using my credit card, I guess I have to hand the cashier a $100 bill – and hope that the cashier can calculate change without taking off their shoes and socks after counting past ten.

Oh well… I guess stuff happens.

Usually to me.