Business

A US petrol station manager was fired for selling petrol at R2.41 per litre by mistake

Business Insider US
A woman putting petrol into a car at a forecourt station.
A customer prepares to pump petrol into her car at a Chevron station in May 2022 in San Rafael, California.
  • A California petrol station manager has been fired for setting petrol prices at 69 cents per gallon – the equivalent of R2.41 per litre – rather than $6.99 after accidentally misplacing the decimal.
  • Customers flooded the station to take advantage of the mistake, costing the place $16,000 (more than R250,000) before it was fixed.
  • Petrol prices haven't been 69 cents in the US since 1978. The current average in California is $6.435 per gallon.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A manager at a petrol station in California is out of a job after accidentally reducing prices to just 69 cents per gallon, the equivalent of R2.41 per litre.

John Szczecina was setting prices at the Shell petrol station in, California, last week when he moved a decimal by accident, marking petrol per gallon as 69 cents instead of $6.99.

Several hours passed before anyone fixed the mistake. In the meantime, customers flocked to the station to capitalise on the unintentional deal, costing the establishment $16,000 – the equivalent of just about R250,000 – before the error was corrected. 

Szczecina said he was fired because of the error.

"I thought, 'This is a nightmare,'" Szczecina said, according to CBS13. "I put all three prices on there except the diesel, but the last one kind of didn't go, you know, right."


"So I just took responsibility for it and I said, 'Yeah it's my fault, and I'm to blame,'" he added. 

The mistake gave customers a chance to fill up their tanks on a petrol price not seen in more than four decades. The last time petrol cost 69 cents in the US was October 1978, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Petrol prices have been squeezing consumers' wallets for months. In California, the average cost per gallon of petrol was $6.435 (equivalent to R22.40 per litre) as of Wednesday morning, according to AAA.

A person claiming to be Szczecina's sister has set up a GoFundMe to help repay the lost revenue, as Szczecina is worried about being sued, CBS13 reports. On Wednesday, it had raised about $5,600.

Szczecina did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

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