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Price war at the pump

Pilot lands at $2.99; competitors follow suit

Pilot lands at $2.99; competitors follow suit

March 21, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HALFWAY - Some motorists went out of their way Thursday to take advantage of regular unleaded gasoline priced at $2.99 per gallon at a new Pilot Travel Center and an Exxon attached to an AC&T convenience store near Interstate 81.

Martin's Food Market on Wesel Boulevard also was offering regular unleaded gas for $2.99 per gallon.

"A little detour is well worth it," said Kenneth Schmidt of Williamsport, who was filling up at Exxon. It was the third vehicle he had filled with gas at the station, Schmidt said.

Schmidt hadn't seen such a low price in about six months, and thought it was like getting a free gallon of gas, he said.

Exxon lowered its price for unleaded gas from $3.29 per gallon to $2.99, matching the price that Pilot was charging since its grand opening.

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Pilot was selling regular unleaded for $2.99 per gallon "to get people to come look at our beautiful facility," general manager Craig Killmeyer said.

Exxon dropped its price because "we're loyal to our customers and wanted to provide the same price," district manager Susan Tibbens said.

Local people also treat the AC&T at the Exxon as a convenience store, where they buy staple groceries, she said.

Exxon's price was reduced to $2.99 per gallon Tuesday, and the station was so busy Wednesday that workers had to direct traffic, Tibbens said.

Killmeyer and Tibbens both said they do not know how long unleaded gas at their respective stations would remain at $2.99.

"It's not going to last," said Gary Hoffman of Halfway, who was filling his vehicle at Exxon after friends told him about the low prices.

Hoffman said it seemed as though the Pilot and Exxon stations were having a "gas war."

Martin's was busy Thursday after its corporate office decided to change the price from $3.29 per gallon for unleaded to $2.99, Vicky Campanelli said.

Campanelli was told to change the prices Thursday about 9:30 a.m., she said. The price change was made because Pilot was charging $2.99 per gallon, she said.

John Goldschmidt travels up and down the East Coast for his job with McDonald's corporate office, and said he hasn't seen unleaded gas cost less than $3.25 per gallon anywhere lately.

Goldschmidt has been helping to open the McDonald's at the Pilot center this week, and has noticed nonstop activity at the gas pumps, he said.

"It's nonstop, these pumps," he said. "They're the most crowded gas pumps I've ever seen."

When asked whether the Pilot station was making a profit at the price it was selling gasoline, a spokeswoman said she couldn't discuss pricing information, citing antitrust regulations.

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