Exxon Pins Its Dealers to the Mat
Soaring costs are squeezing gas station owners too
Dealers say fuel and other expenses are rising so rapidly that they can't keep up.
By Elizabeth Douglass and Ronald D. White Los Angeles Times Staff Writers June 10, 2008 Andre van der Valk hasn't been paid in six months. He has a job, though, as owner of four service stations in Southern California. He hasn't taken a salary this year so he can pour all his money into buying fuel for his stations. Despite the jaw-dropping prices at the pump -- they jumped 19 cents a gallon in California to $4.43 in the last week and averaged more than $4 a gallon nationwide for the first time, the Energy Department said Monday -- service station owners aren't making the killing that motorists assume. That's because credit card fees, the price of tanker-loads of fuel and other costs are rising so rapidly that station owners haven't been able to keep pace despite the record prices they're charging. "People see $4 gas, and they think these retailers are …