Are you sick of high gas prices? Massachusetts resident Ren Gladu is. And Ren can do something about it — kind of.
Ren is the proprietor of Ren’s Mobile, a small-town gas and service station that caters to a college crowd. Around the block is Amherst College, the University of Massachusetts is just over a mile away, and Hampshire College is less than a five-mile drive.
Ren’s had it with the skyrocketed cost of fuel. He told the Daily Hampshire Gazette, “This is the biggest ripoff that ever has happened to people in my lifetime.”
Earlier this month, the cost of gas shot north of $4.75. Ren swore he wouldn’t charge anything higher.
Then ExxonMobil upped its price by 20 cents per gallon two days in a row, and that was it for Ren. He bailed out of the petroleum-peddling business altogether, hanging cardboard signs that read “Out of Gas.”
It could spell the end for the Amherst hub, which Ren took over in 1973. Per the Gazette, he’s operated “through the gas lines of the 1970s to the rising retail prices during wars and after hurricanes.” But now he’s had enough.
Prices have certainly soared. Bill Maher recently joked that the CDC recommends wearing blindfolds at the pump so you don’t have a heart attack over the price it costs to fill up.
According to AAA, the national average as of June 20th is $4.98. In Massachusetts, it’s $5.01.
Ren’s trying to stand up for the customer, but he’s been bested by Phoenix gas station owner Jaswiendre Singh. As reported by AZFamily, earlier this month, Jaswiendre was buying fuel for $5.66 a gallon and selling it at a loss for $5.19.
Ren pins his predicament on corporate greed and potential collusion:
“Dealing with Mobil, they don’t think through their pricing policies anymore. I’ve served their product, but I refuse to do it anymore, because they’re only getting richer. … People shouldn’t have to pay these prices to go to work, to go to church, or to do whatever they have to do. It seems like the oil industry is in this together.”
But in an email to the Gazette, ExxonMobil Corp Operations Media Manager Julie King explained it’s out of the company’s hands:
“Service stations are individually owned and price their fuel based on local market competition and other business factors. Prices at the pump are influenced by the price of crude, and wholesale price of products which fluctuate according to demand and supply factors — such as economic conditions and seasonal factors, fuel production, inventory levels, storage and transportation cost.”
To hear Ren tell it, he’s always “tried to keep [his] prices as fair as can be.” Now customers are pulling up and learning there’s no offer…on offer.
“A lot of people are stopping by to offer me their condolences,” he said, “but I actually feel sorry for them because some of them have been my customers for close to 50 years.”
His pity doesn’t appear to be unfounded — he’s just taken away, according to him, quite possibly the best price in town.
Regardless, Ren and all those in Massachusetts may not realize how good they have it.
Let ’em come to California and have a taste:
Gas prices in Southern California continue to rise to all-time highs, with this gas station on the corner of Alameda Street and Cesar E. Chavez Avenue surpassing the $8 per gallon mark. pic.twitter.com/2jK8qjbbRA
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) May 31, 2022