ORLANDO AIRPORT GAS
In February, my brother and I rented a car from Alamo at the Orlando International Airport. While being serviced, the Alamo rep asked me if I wanted to take the gas fill-up option at $3.29 per gallon. Thinking this might be a gimmick and a way for car rental companies to make easy money on tourists, I declined the option.
As we drove north away from the airport towards our destination, and to help pass the time, our attention was drawn to gas stations in particular, unleaded gas prices. As we got closer to our destination, each unleaded price exceeded the price offered at the airport. At that moment, I knew I had made a mistake. Throughout our 5 day trip, my brother and I were reminded of all the local petro stations selling a gallon of gas for $3.34, $3.39 or $3.45 – in other words, nothing at $3.29 or below. Well, that’s the last time I’ll make that mistake. In fact, the next time I rent a car, I will do some research prior to the trip so I have a good idea of competitive gas prices before renting a car.
Before returning the rental car, we could fill up a few miles before the airport entrance without worrying about not having a full tank. Unfortunately, we missed a key exit miles prior to the airport but no worries, I know Orlando, being a tourist destination, would have filling stations (as my father would call gas stations) near the airport.
Driving a few miles north away from MCO on Semoran Blvd, we noticed our first gas station so from my experience, if the price is not cost prohibitive, you go with the most convenient gas station. I noticed the price displayed on the external sign stated $5.35 or $5.45 per gallon – as I thought I was imaging this. Sure enough, the price per gallon for unleaded gas was over $5 (Sun Gas). Maybe it was so expensive because it was blessed by the sun? Unbelievable – I thought of price gouging and how is this possible and then I realized the state I was visiting and realized anything was possible in FL. The station across the street (Suncoast Energys) was in the same ball park – another seller pricing their commodity at a much higher price than what’s considered reasonable. I don’t remember the exact price although it appeared to be in the neighborhood of $5.59 per gallon.
Not sure if it was financial or principle based, but my brother and I were in no mood to pay that price even though we were running late getting to the airport. We were both curious about other stations farther down the highway – curious to see the extent of the price gouging. Within minutes, we found a gas station with competitive prices and ironically, it was the same price Alamo had offered 5 days ago. So if you travel minutes down north on Semoran Blvd (and away from the initial price gougers) you may save over $2.20 per gallon.
Amazing, but will know for next time. Do these gas stations who price gouge pay 40% more for land or fuel? I wonder how many tourists simply “fill-up” their cars without minding the actual per gallon price? I wonder who gets gouged more, domestic or international tourists?
Is the incredible profit opportunity for these two gas stations supersede any negative press that is generated about Orlando or the businesses around the airport?
Added Note — I told a friend about this experience and he wondered why I didn’t just accept the offer from Alamo. Perhaps I should have even though I eventually paid the same price by “pushing the envelope” when searching for gas stations near the airport and besides, I have a story to tell about my “lesson’s learned” through this experience.