The unforeseen cost of $0.69-a-gallon gas? One Shell station manager’s job

The price for super unleaded gasoline reached $7.29 a gallon at this Mid-City Shell station on Monday, Mar. 7, 2022.

For a few hours last week, drivers in Northern California found a surprise respite from rising prices — a Shell station selling fuel for $0.69 a gallon. But the deal of a lifetime was the result of a misplaced decimal point, and the manager responsible has been fired.

John Szczecina was supposed to set the price at $6.99. He told KOVR-TV in Sacramento that he “put all three prices on there except the diesel, but the last one kind of didn’t go, you know, right.”

“I thought, ‘This is a nightmare,’” Szczecina told the news station.

He was fired Monday as a result, KOVR reported.

Rancho Cordova resident Darryl Surita said he was shocked when he filled up a full tank of gas for about $14 on June 9.

“When I first saw that the price was 69 cents, I just couldn’t believe it,” Surita said. “Once I checked my car, the tank was all filled up, so I was extremely happy. I had a really big smile on my face.”

Assuming it was due to a system malfunction, Surita shared the shocking price to his followers on Instagram.

After finding out that Szczecina took the blame and was fired, he sympathized with the manager and decided to help spread the link to a GoFundMe page set up on behalf of Szczecina.

“I felt bad for him. At first, I thought it was a glitch and didn’t think anyone would have to pay for it,” Surita said. “But when I heard that he took the blame, I figured that I would help him and donate some money to him to make him less stressed out.”

According to Surita, the gas station filled up quickly once word began to spread. At one point, the line was backed up to the traffic light, Surita said. One customer said he had driven across town to take advantage of the low price.

The mistake cost the gas station a loss of $16,000, according to the GoFundMe page.

Paula Jackson, Szczecina’s sister, created the fundraiser to try to pay back the gas station owners. As of Friday, the GoFundMe had surpassed its $20,000 goal, with more than 1,000 donations.

Many donors commented with words of support, praising Szczecina for attempting to correct an “honest mistake.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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