Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Gasoline price Web sites see huge increase in visitors as Americans look for bargains

DENVER (AP) – The higher U.S. gasoline prices go, the more money business Web entrepreneur Jason Toews makes.

He started an Internet site, GasBuddy.com, in 2000 to track daily gasoline prices using volunteers to e-mail what they find. ”Hardly anybody ever used it,” Toews, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, recalled.

By 2004, 1 million people were visiting the site daily, although the numbers dropped when prices went down.

But at the pace hits were being recorded Thursday, the site was likely to break its record of 4 million visitors, Toews said. As gasoline prices have risen, so have the hits on his site and another, GasPriceWatch.com.

”We have had to buy more servers and it looks like we will need more,” he said.

GasBuddy.com offers information from 180 locations in the U.S. and Canada, including every major city. The site said the average price nationally in the U.S. was $3.22 (euro2.39) for a gallon – nearly 4 liters – of unleaded gasoline Thursday afternoon, compared with $2.86 a year ago.

Brad Proctor, founder of GasPriceWatch.com in Centerville, Ohio, said his site has added prices for ethanol, biodiesel, truck diesel and ultra-low-sulfur diesel. Hits on his site have doubled. As many eight people log in every second during peak periods, he said.

Dan Gilligan, president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Petroleum Marketers Association of America, said the system is a good idea but warned consumers to remember that if they drive more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) to save a few cents, they are losing money. He also said there is no guarantee the price will be the same when they arrive.

”Many retailers are getting price increases twice a day. You may have a price increase within six hours,” he said.

Other businesses are also tying technology to drivers’ increasing efforts to find a deal.

A cell phone provider, Mobio Networks, launched a free service this week telling its customers the cheapest gasoline prices in their area.

BetUS.com, a sports betting Web site, was posting odds of the national average exceeding $3.50 (euro2.60) before the end of the year.

Toews’ company, GasBuddy Organization Inc., claims to monitor 900,000 stations with several hundred thousand registered volunteers. GasPriceWatch.com says it tracks 170,000 stations.

People can send a message to gas(at)gasbuddy.com with a neighborhood postal code in the text area, and the site will reply with the cheapest nearby stations.

The Web site also has a national map for those planning trips.

Relying on volunteers for price information does have its flaws. People occasionally make false reports of unrealistically low prices, Toews said. ”We do monitor them and we take them off and ban the person who sent it,” he said.

He also gets calls from time to time from stations embarrassed to be on the list with the highest prices. ”They don’t want to be seen as gouging people,” he said.

Supermarkets and stores such as Costco Wholesale Corp. locations often are the cheapest ”because they use gas as a loss leader,” Toews said.

Calls and e-mails to the Web site lead him to believe the shock of $3 (euro2.23) gasoline has worn off.

”People are budgeting for it,” he said. ”But many people will just put five bucks in until they can find a cheaper station.”

Toews said despite its increasing number of hits, the Web site has not made millionaires of him or co-founder Dustin Coupal, an ophthalmologist.

”But we do have enough advertising to sustain the operation,” he said.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.