Ghastly prices at the pump

Joel Tianello

How to manage soaring gas costs

Luckily for Ravenna resident Todd Hurd, work is only three miles away from his home. With gas prices soaring, Hurd said he’s grateful he only has to fill his car up every 10 days. ALLIEY BENDER | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

Kent students and residents are feeling the burn of some of the highest gas prices in history.

The federal Energy Information Administration said it expects “gasoline prices to remain in the vicinity of $3 per gallon for much of the rest of the summer,” with notable price declines “not likely to occur before September.”

This price is up 71 cents from a year ago, before Hurricane Katrina impacted prices.

While the Energy Information Administration suggests we may top the $3.07 high that was set after Katrina, it’s still not as high as March 1981, when, adjusted for inflation, gas was about $3.20.

Sixty percent of Americans now consider gasoline a “financial hardship,” according to a July 2006 ABC News poll.

Laura Frye, who works in Kent State’s Development Office, said she’s starting to feel that hardship driving from Akron every day.

“I’d like to believe it’s supply and demand,” Frye said, “but oil companies are recording record profits, and I feel like we’re paying for them.”

Local gas stations are experiencing the consistent business they’re used to, but often feel the customers’ wrath.

One local gas station manager, who agreed to speak anonymously because her company doesn’t allow interviews, said customers hold employees responsible for high gas prices.

“Of course they blame me personally,” she said. “Then they’ll have some choice words about the president and oil companies.”


1960: 31 cents

1970: 36 cents

1980: $1.25

1990: $1.16

1999: $1.17

July 31, 2006 (Ohio average): $2.94

— Source: Energy Information Administration

Still, she said prices don’t affect customer spending.

“Someone who spends $10 will always spend $10,” she said.

Jim Davey, a shift manager at the South Water Street Citgo until last week, agreed that prices have little impact on customer spending.

“People, especially students, don’t spend more, he said. “They just come more often.”

Davey was also used to hearing customer complaints about prices.

“They would always say something, usually about the oil companies. But our station was privately owned, and the owners set the prices. I’m glad people didn’t realize that,” he said.

Gasoline sales are predicted to be highest for the year in August, when road trips most are frequent, and then drop 5 percent in September as sales reach their lowest in January, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Web site.

With fuel prices as high as they are, there are several ways to save.

One way is with a credit card that offers a discount on gasoline, such as the Chase Cash Plus Card or the Discover Gas Card, both of which give a 5 percent rebate on gas purchases.

Most gas station chains offer their own credit cards with discounts, such as the Speedway/SuperAmerica gas card, which gives an 8 percent discount, or the Marathon gas card, which gives a 10 percent discount.

Another popular promotion is Giant Eagle’s Fuel Perks program. Customers who use their Advantage cards to purchase groceries receive a 10-cent per gallon discount for every $50 purchased. Right now, to accommodate the summer driving season, Giant Eagle has doubled the discount to 20 cents through Sept. 5.

The disadvantage to the Fuel Perks program is that the closest Giant Eagle stations where they can be used are in Ravenna and Chapel Hill. Also, discounts expire every three months whether used or not.

Another way to save is to shop around.

These days the Web can be a great help, with sites like to compare local gas prices. will send e-mail updates with the lowest prices in a given area.

The best way to save, though, is to keep your car as fuel-efficient as possible.

“The cleaner the air and fuel going into your engine are, the better your fuel efficiency’s going to be,” said Jim Bierworth, manager of tire sales at Firestone on East Main Street.

Bierworth recommends regular air filter changes, a fuel system cleanout and regular oil changes.

“An oil change is the cheapest way of protecting one of your most expensive investments,” Bierworth said.

Bierworth, who also works with race cars, said weight can be a major factor in fuel efficiency.

“Weight is everything,” he said. “People don’t think to remove unneeded stuff from their trunk.”

Contact general assignment reporter Joel Tianello at [email protected].