The Greenwich Citizen posted an editorial the other day calling for an end to zone pricing. “Zone pricing” means carving up markets into small zones, based on demographics and other information, and varying prices according to zones. Generally, zones with wealthier customers (like Greenwich, Connecticut) have higher prices although other factors, such as convenience to highway exits, also come into play. Naturally, competition plays a big role as well. Competing stations may find themselves face-to-face across important intersections. These situations tend to converge prices, although one station may offer a slightly lower price on regular gasoline, while another offers a lower price on premium.
While the Greenwich Citizen notes that not all locals are CEOs easily able to afford more expensive gas, there seems little or no good reason to compel companies to price uniformly. This seems less likely to (illegally) drive prices lower, and much more likely to raise prices across the board. Ignoring the demand side of the equation for a moment, my guess is that real estate, taxes, and other business costs are higher in Greenwich. This may not account for all, or even most of the price difference, but it is a factor.
Even here in Austin (where gas was less than $1.00/gallon a few years ago), there are quite noticeable differences in price in different parts of town. I try to fill up at a “cheap” station when possible. It’s the station’s right to set its prices, and my right to decide whether or not to fill up there.
p.s. Note that all the gas pricing tricks are based on the customer, because despite attempts to differentiate the product (“Chevron with Techron”, etc), people see all major brands as essentially the same. And when it comes to major refineries putting oil into pipelines, that’s true. A refinery puts a certain amount of a certain grade into the pipeline, gaining the right to extract an equal amount from the pipeline somewhere else. Not necessarily the oil they put in, though.