Thursday, February 7, 2008

Grading the Beacon Hill Gas Stations: Valero Fails

I don't ask a lot of a gas station. Basically, I just want to be able to fill my tank and get a receipt without going inside. I plan to visit all the gas stations on Beacon Hill and report back on whether they pass or fail this simple test. (It may take me a while to get to them all, as I don't drive very much.)

Today I went to Valero, where I've had trouble before. (Forgive the lousy cell phone pictures.)


Last time I went there, the gas stopped pumping when it reached $35. There was no explanation for this.

It wasn't just a fluke. Today I had the exact same problem.


Since my tank is larger than 11 gallons, I was unable to fill my tank. Valero fails the test.

As for the receipt, I wasn't quick enough to respond to the question about whether I wanted one or not (I was busy taking pictures), and it suddenly switched to the thank-you screen. So no receipt at all. As I recall, Valero also failed the receipt test last time, telling me I needed to go inside to get it.


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Wendee said...

You think Valero fails - try MC something or other on Beacon and Columbia. You have to GO INSIDE to pay and depending on who is working and how you decide to pay this could take FOREVER. I've spent 15 minutes on a quick $10 of gas (and now-a-days that should be quick.)

BTW - have you noticed that gas is more expensive on the south end than say... Fremont or Ballard. Hmmm. Curious.

arturo said...

Yes, Valero blows! I've never had an automated transaction there that didn't require me to go into the store for five minutes, and the gas must be $0.20 more/gallon than anywhere in Georgetown. Last time I was there (which will be the LAST time), I was panhandled by a guy who claimed to know me "from somewhere", while his twitchy girlfriend hid behind a car about thirty feet away, watching me like a starving wolf.

Wendee, however, is right - the Mc-Whatever is even worse. The out-of-order note taped to one pump has been up for so many months now it has faded in the sunlight. The automated pumps are anything but, the prices are jacked up even higher than valero. Last time I went inside, a visibly pregnant woman (drunk, and holding an unlit cigarette) was yelling at the teenaged cashier for not having a public restroom. The scene was deteriorating towards public defecation, so I got out as fast as I could.

Go to Georgetown, or to the Shell on the north end of Beacon. They're much saner there, and they sell some yummy fried catfish.

Anonymous said...

I second or third or whatever what Wendee and Arturo said about the gas station at Beacon and Columbian: it is truly frightening. I would avoid that one at all costs.

Are you a Costco member? That's where I get my gas. But then that gets away from the purpose of your experiment....

23giffzone said...

I liked the gas stations better when they were actually local Hardware stores. Do we really need 3 gas stations in Beacon Hill?

I wonder if any of them will pass the test. Thanks for the update.

uppergeorgetowner said...

I've never had the fortitude to try Valero; it looks sketchy even from the street. I go the Shell on North Beacon, or to the Union 76 in Georgetown. Both good.

JvA said...

Yeah, I do not like the MC place on Beacon and Columbia. I'll probably report on that one next.

But we hardly ever take the Buick (the car I drive) off Beacon Hill, though, so that's why I end up at the stations on the hill.

The Buick doesn't get driven very much (I only need to fill the tank every other month or so) and the Echo gets terrific mileage, so we don't worry too much about the price at the pump. But we are Costco members; maybe we'll fill the Echo there sometime. (And get a car wash!)

Anonymous said...

I live right by the MC - it's a Gull station - and in five years, have bought gas there only once! It's the weirdest little store; they sell rhinestone pot-leaf belt buckles (dressed for success! Hi, boss!), mini-Visines right by the cash register, bundles of socks, 30 different styles of doo-rags, and "Scarface" posters. Looking for an emergency bag of tortilla chips? You won't find it here. Loaf of bread? Nope.

The teenage guy is nice; I have had to buy beer there before (you know, emergency sitch..).

I buy gas in Ballard. It's consistently cheaper than in Beacon Hill.

Anonymous said...

I think the Valero must just take a pre-authorization of $35.00 so no one can pump over that without starting a separate transaction. You'd think they could bring a programmer in to get it to a more (current *sigh*) level... maybe they feel they would have more cards declined or lose on business if their authorization limit was higher.

I learned a little about this from CBC News the other day but it's also posted all over my local 76 in the C.D.

JvA said...

Yeah -- they should tell you what's up with a little sign on the pump instead of just cutting you off at $35.

And they should up it to $50, or whatever it takes to fill a 15-gallon tank with regular gas.