Milberg Files Shell Gas Price Class Action Lawsuit
by Brian Eckert
Florida consumers are charged the higher “credit” price for Shell gasoline when paying for gas with debit cards, a Milberg class action lawsuit alleges.
Royal Dutch Shell is one of the five largest oil and gas companies in the world. Shell Oil Company, the United States-based subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, has the largest market share of any U.S. gas brand, with approximately 14,000 Shell-branded stations nationwide. Seventy-five percent of Americans live within five miles of a Shell gas station. Shell serves more than six million customers daily and sells around 19 billion gallons of gasoline per year.
Shell treats debit cards like credit cards, charging unsuspecting consumers the higher “credit” price rather than the advertised “cash” price, states Milberg’s class action lawsuit.
Most Shell gas is purchased using a credit card or debit card. Shell uses a two-tiered “split pricing” program that offers gasoline for sale at a “credit” price and a “cash” price that is $.10 lower than the credit price. The split pricing is prominently displayed on Shell gas pumps and many stations also advertise the tiered pricing on exterior signage.
Consumers consider debit cards to be a form of cash, since payments are deducted directly from their checking or saving account. They therefore assume that paying for Shell gas with a debit card would result in them paying the lower “cash” price. But this is not the case, according to Milberg’s complaint, filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
“Shell’s pricing scheme is false, deceptive, and misleading to reasonable consumers who purchase gasoline with a debit card because, contrary to the expectations of reasonable consumers, Shell treats debit cards like credit cards, charging unsuspecting consumers the higher “credit” price rather than the advertised “cash” price,” states the complaint.
“Shell’s advertised “cash” and “credit” is deceptive because when presented with a “cash” price and a “credit” price, reasonable consumers will invariably expect to pay Shell’s advertised “cash” price rather than the “credit” price because a debit card is not a credit card,” the complaint adds.
Shell is accused of violating Florida’s consumer protection laws, including the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.
The Lead Plaintiff and Proposed Class
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is a resident of Palm Beach County, Florida. She purchased gas at a number of Shell stations throughout Florida where split “cash” and “credit” pricing is advertised. She alleges that Shell never notified customers that it charges the higher credit price on debit card gasoline purchases.
In February 2021, the plaintiff purchased Shell gasoline at a station in Delray Beach, FL and assumed that the cash price would apply to her debit card purchase. However, after the sale was complete, she noticed on the receipt that she’d been charged the higher credit price rather than the advertised cash price. She asserts that she would not have purchased Shell gas with a debit card if it was not for Shell’s knowing, intentional, and misleading pricing scheme.
The plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and all other persons who paid for Shell-branded gasoline with a debit card in the State of Florida during the last four years and who were charged a “credit” price that was higher than the “cash” price.
Anyone who meets the class criteria is automatically included in the lawsuit and any resulting settlement. You can learn more about how class actions work by visiting our Class Action Lawsuit page.