Murphy USA says steep gas price at 8 Austin-area stations was ‘human error'

Murphy USA said customers did pay extra for gasoline Friday due to a 'technical glitch' and a 'human error,' and that those customers will be reimbursed.

PFLUGERVILLE, TEXAS - After a woman pumped gas at a Pflugerville station and realized she paid nearly double what was advertised, Murphy USA confirmed the error which happened at eight of their locations and said the cause was a "human error."

KVUE's Nicole Rosales spoke to the driver who paid double the state average for gas at a Pflugerville gas station Friday morning. Cindy Bocz said she went to a Murphy USA along FM 685, where she said the price read "$2.24" for unleaded. While she was pumping, she said the price went up to $4.61. 

So, she took out her phone and started documenting the prices on the pump. Unleaded plus read $4.85 and unleaded (which is cut off in her photo) read $4.61.

She also included a picture of her receipts. Bocz said she stopped pumping gas when she noticed the price and asked the gas clerk about it. The clerk told her that the price had gone up. Thinking that she had no other choice, she continued pumping and later took a picture of both receipts.

Murphy USA told KVUE they corrected the price after they realized it was up for 40 minutes Friday. She said the company will reimburse customers who bought the gas at the price of $4.61. Here is Murphy USA's full statement:

This morning at 8:50 a.m. at eight of our Austin, Texas, stations there was an unintended price increase due to human error related to our centrally managed pricing system. Within 40 minutes we posted the correct price and began reimbursing customers who were affected. We have initiated the process to reimburse all credit and debit card customers, and those should be posting to their accounts today and over the next several days. For our cash customers who have been impacted, we are asking them to call 1-800-905-0021 for information.
Less than 300 customers at eight of our stations in the Austin area were affected. Once we became aware of the mistake, we quickly took steps to begin reimbursing customers, while also alerting the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

We are incredibly sorry for the mistake and working hard to make it right for our valued customers.

Jennifer Speller with the attorney general's office told KVUE they consider the incident to be price-gouging and sent a "Civil Investigative Demand" to Murphy USA to stop selling gas at that price. She does not know if it was sent before or after the company changed their price back. KVUE has requested a copy of the CID. 

Many drivers have seen long lines the last couple of days. Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said there is no shortage of fuel in Texas because of Hurricane Harvey, but many stations are running out due to a high level of demand. Sitton also acknowledged that prices are expected to climb in the coming days.


VERIFY: Are Austin-area gas stations running low on fuel?

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Experts said that transporting the supply to gas stations is taking additional time. They recommend if you can wait a few days to fill up, it can help ease the demand.



"As a region -- there will be gasoline. There may be pockets that take a few days to get refueled but I don't believe a week from now this will be an issue," Sitton said. "There's just so much gasoline in inventory, pipelines are coming back online, logistical problems are working out, so that is not going to be a long-term issue."

Still, Bocz said the company took advantage of customers during a time when they are the most vulnerable. 

"I posted on Facebook, like 'This is what we are looking at people -- this is what is fixin' to happen,'" Bocz said. "And everyone was like, 'No, that's price gouging, you need to report that. We don't do that here and we definitely don't do that in Pflugerville.'"

If you think you see price-gouging, file a complaint with the attorney general.

© 2018 KVUE-TV


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