MOUNT LAUREL — Costco plans next month to restrict gas sales to club members across the country, including here in New Jersey.
On Tuesday in Centerton Square in Mount Laurel, there were six lanes of cars waiting to refuel at several pumps at the Costco gas station, whose prices tend to be cheaper than many other stations.
Regular unleaded gas was priced at $4.83 a gallon – compared to $5+ at many other stations – while premium was $5.29 a gallon
Signs posted at Costco gas station pumps in New Jersey this week carry the following announcement:
“As of July 5, 2022, your active Costco membership card will be required for gas purchases.”
Whether this is legal in New Jersey is unclear.
In 2004, Costco and other warehouse clubs were told that restricting gas sales to members would violate state law after the retailer posted signs at pumps requiring drivers to present a membership card. . The membership card requirement was eventually dropped.
No immediate comment on Costco’s policy this week was available from the state’s Consumer Affairs Division, an agency overseen by the Attorney General’s Office.
Costco officials could not be reached for immediate comment Tuesday and did not respond to an email requesting more information.
A representative of an industry association says he sees nothing wrong with this policy.
“I hear that they (Costco) take a position that it is not illegal to limit their customers to members of their New Jersey gas stations and I see nothing in state law preventing them to do so,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director. of New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association headquartered in Wall Township.
Some customers of the Mount Laurel gas station club outside the Costco store at 100 Centerton Road on Tuesday were taken aback by the announcement, saying they had never had to show proof of membership before. Other drivers said they automatically give the attendant their Costco membership card and/or credit card.
Either way, customers said they had no idea if Costco could legally limit gas to just members of its club in New Jersey, which is also not a gas state in self-service, but has attendants to pump gas for customers.
“I always had to use my Costco card in Ohio, but here in New Jersey they never ask for it,” said Carnita Brown of the Pemberton area. “I wonder why that’s going to change…and I have no idea if it’s legal to do that here.”
Kelly Borreggine, a former Medford resident now living in Naples, Fla., and visiting New Jersey for a week, said she had no problem with Costco limiting gas to club members like her. She pulled over for a half tank of gas which cost her $46.33 for 8.7 gallons and saw the billboard.
Costco card member Antoinette Liberata and her fiancé Lou Marazzo, both of Mount Laurel, pulled up in a Cadillac XT5. They said they got gas every other day and left the pump Tuesday with nine more gallons that cost $47.
When asked if Costco stations should serve the general public in New Jersey, Mazzaro replied, “Absolutely!”
However, the biggest concern for customers on Tuesday was lines and gas prices.
Marlton driver Jeff Rollins, who remembers the gas and lines crisis in 1973, said he stood in line 20 minutes at Costco three weeks ago; last week he said he left after seeing much longer queues because “it’s a waste of time to wait and only save pennies”.
He called the high prices “horrible” but avoidable because, he said, the United States could produce more oil than other countries if it wanted to.
Marazzo described the cost at the pump as ridiculous, adding, “People can’t survive on these gas prices.”
This story can be updated.
Carol Comegno loves telling stories about South Jersey life, history and veterans for the Courier Post, Burlington County Times and Daily Journal. If you have a story to share, call her at 856-486-2473 or email [email protected].
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