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ibstubro's avatar

Why does New Jersey ban self-serve gas stations, and do you agree or disagree with the results?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) July 7th, 2015


I see both sides, so I bring it to Fluther for discussion.

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21 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

We ban them in Oregon. The price argument doesn’t really hold a lot of water since I have never seen any sort of argument that reflects it (that isn’t massively biased). You can shoot two gallons in a tank in 30 seconds and that pays for the employees wages. And they are filling up multiple cars at a time so it becomes even less.

And I would argue that having attendants is more efficient. I don’t think I have ever waited more than a few minutes for someone to start pumping our gas. Oh, and if you have to run inside for “Ten bucks on #5” but there is a dude buying a snapple and lottery tickets. But there is only one register. But if you had people outside you could have four people manning the pumps.

And the bad argument is pretty much that people should know how to pump their own. Which is valid, just sort of naive.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Another Oregonian here, so I can’t say why NJ bans it, or even really why Oregon bans it, but I just don’t see why people care so much either way. This is a topic that always comes up and people constantly make fun of Oregon and NJ for it, but it baffles me why people care so much. Honestly, the last thing I say when I walk away from any conversation about this is “Who cares? It gives people a job. Also, it rains a lot here and I really don’t mind that I don’t have to get out of the car when it’s cold and crappy outside.”

kritiper's avatar

People can be very stupid when it comes to flammable liquids such as gasoline. Smoking, lighting up and all while standing there with the nozzle in their hand. I had a lady once who lit her smoke while I was filling her tank. She was driving a Chevy pick-up where the filler spout was about 30” from her face. ‘Nuff said??

Buttonstc's avatar

I can actually remember the days when there was no such thing as self serve at gas stations.

And I much preferred it that way.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The last self-serve station I remember went away like ten years ago in this area. I’m basically indifferent to it. I can see some safety benefits but I basically almost never see any incidents when people pump their own anyway. Banning self service though seems a little harsh and forces a business model on local station owners. Instead of banning it would probably be better just to provide incentives to promote full-serve like different tax rates per gallon based on delivery method.

JLeslie's avatar

I knew NJ still has people to pump gas for you at the gas station, but I had no idea it’s some sort of law? I don’t think I am in favor of such a law, but I do like having the option of someone to pump my gas. I guess you need the law for stations to employ someone to do, as evident by how that service is almost nonexistent across the US. If it was cost saving or revenue building in the end I would think stations would do it on their own. 25 years ago I still ran across stations that had an employee to pump gas, I don’t remember if the gas was more expensive there. I think a lot of people would pay a penny or two more per gallon for the service. Especially stations near active adult communities.

ragingloli's avatar

Wait, you have people employed to fill up your petrol tank?

jca's avatar

One advantage I can see is that with “Pump your own,” the gas station itself can be small and not need a cover or whatever. Those stations are often not huge, which is nice. The self serve ones are often huge, with 10 pumps or whatever, and need a big cover so people’s heads don’t get wet, which is convenient for those who are pumping their own but not everyone wants a big huge station in their neighborhood.

I go out of my way for a gas station that pumps and yet is cheaper. It’s four pumps and I will give a dollar to the young guy or gal who pumps. Everyone is happy, me and them.

dabbler's avatar

The best reason I’ve seen is safety. Regular folks come up with all sorts of ways to do this simple process incorrectly, spilling gas and damaging the fill nozzle and hoses.
The stations I’ve been to in NJ usually have attendants who get the fillup done quickly, but occasionally it’s a wait.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The “people don’t know what to do” argument fails. Or the rest of us in the other 48 states simply smarter than people in Oregon and NJ?

My understanding is that is primarily history, and to a lesser extent, pressure from employees, that keeps this going.

Second note – it can’t be totally illegal in NJ – I know that I have pumped my own gas at stations on the NJ Turnpike.

janbb's avatar

It is illegal in New Jersey and there was just a bill to end mandatory attendance that was defeated. The stated reasons are employment and safety.

We be just too cool to pump gas!

jca's avatar

@elbanditoroso: Maybe the attendant was distracted and you pumped it but that doesn’t make it legal. I have been with people that have done that, too.

ibstubro's avatar

NPR said that the law in New Jersey created 14,000 low paying, no educational requirement jobs.
Mandated work-fare.
They should probably be rebating some of the gas station’s taxes to compensate.

Jaxk's avatar

The last time I was in Oregon, it was not exactly full service. I had to go inside to pay (cash) or swipe my card at the pump. The attendant only pumped the gas. Kinda useless if you ask me. The only benefit I see, would be to reduce the number of times the customer drives away with the nozzle still in the tank. I’m always surprised at how often that happens.

Overall it seems like a useless make work law. Much like digging holes and refilling them to make work.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. I haven’t seen an attendant gas station since the early 70’s. Can’t even the remember the last time I saw a “gas” station. Don’t y’all fill up at convenience stores?

The advantage to having an attendant it that they check all your fluid levels, and top them off.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: Not in your standard NJ gas station do they do that, and the ones I go to in my area they don’t do that, either, unless you ask.

ibstubro's avatar

We have a local “gas station”. The only thing available is gas, and credit card only. Since there’s no ‘convenience’, the price is 20ยข a gallon cheaper.

We also have a ‘service station’ where they’ll pump your gas and check those fluids. Don’t know the additional cost.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

No idea. I haven’t been in a petrol station that isn’t self serve for years. People aren’t blowing things up or setting themselves on fire.

bossob's avatar

I was managing a ‘service station’ in the late seventies/early eighties, the ones that did mechanical work on cars and dispensed gas. Gross profit on a gallon of self serve was 8–10 cents; gross profit on full serve was 25–30 cents per gallon. Net profit for the month came from the service work.

It was the era when ‘C’ stores (convenience) started being built by the major oil companies, They were larger, more pumps, more customer friendly, and provided greater volume of gas sales and better profits on groceries. That began the domination by the self-serve-only ‘gas’ stations. Then came Jiffy Lube, etal., which stole more business from the traditional service station model. Full serve is still legal in my state, but the stations that offer it are few and far between. With rare exceptions, there’s more money in self-serve gas and groceries than there is in full/self-serve gas and auto service work.

It’s the free market at work.

As for safety, we’d have a hose pulled out of the pump once in a while, but the safety shut-off valves always worked. The scariest events were when somebody pulled up to the pumps with flames coming from under the hood, thinking that they could use the water hose to put out the fire!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Jaxk What part of Oregon were you in? In Portland, and all over the state, I never have to get out of the car to pay, except on very rare occasions when the gas stations are really busy.

Also, people who come here from out of state and have no idea about the law end up pumping their own gas quite a bit. I see it all the time. It’s not like you’ll actually get in trouble for it if you’re caught, people just aren’t supposed to. It’s also common enough that, when some places are really crowded, you can just tell the attendant that you’re going to get your gas started and they don’t care.

Jaxk's avatar

@DrasticDreamer – It was about 2004 in southern Oregon at a freeway exit. I was traveling to Washington. The guy wouldn’t take my cash and I assumed they didn’t want some schlub standing out by the pumps with a handful of cash waiting to be robbed. But he wouldn’t take my credit card either and said I had to swipe it myself. I remember because I couldn’t understand what benefit there was in having an attendant and still having to get out of the car to handle the transaction. I just figured it was Oregon and a lot of weird people live up there. Maybe I was too judgmental.

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