Pump Gaffe Leads to Fuel Frenzy
Neighbors knew something was up when cars lined up around the block outside the East River Mart in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, Tuesday night, an hour after the place officially closed.
When police arrived around midnight, they found that the source of the chaos was 27 cent gas. "At this point, it appears to us to be a mistake," said Deputy Coon Rapids Police Chief Timothy Snell.
"The business owner told us last night before he closed up the business, his intention was to change the pump price to $2.79 and in fact, it was changed to 27.9 cents."
The station's pumps operate after closing for customers who use credit cards. It appears someone who pumped gas noticed the error and called a friend who called a friend, who, well you get the picture.
Someone eventually called Twin Cities heavy metal radio station 93X, and announced the pricing mistake live over the air. It didn't take long for bargain hunters to descend on the gas station. "It sounds like word really got out," mused Deputy Chief Snell. "There were a number of cars there when officers arrived at the scene, and there were enough people where it was causing a disturbance to the neighbors in the area."
The morning manager of East River Mart estimates 3,500 gallons of premium were pumped in the two hour frenzy. At a loss of more than $2.50 per gallon, that would be a hit of nearly $9,000 for the small business.
Muhammed Shahid-Mian also disputes the police assertion that the owner is responsible for the pricing error, insisting someone tampered with the pumps. "I called the programmer and said, is something wrong with the program?" Shahid-Mian explained. "He said no, nothing wrong with the program. Somebody hacked in from outside."
Criminal or not, a longtime neighbor of the station expressed disgust at the predatory behavior of those who scrambled to Coon Rapids for the 27 cent gas. "It's stealing basically," lamented Greg Schweitzer. "They might have got away with 25 bucks, but it's not worth it, you know?"