A Costco Wholesale plan to limit its gasoline service to its club members is legal in New Jersey, according to the state Office of the Attorney General.
So anyone who wants to fill up at a Costco gas station will have to be a member beginning Tuesday — the day after the July 4 holiday."The practice of offering members-only gasoline sales does not violate any of New Jersey's consumer protection laws," said Steven Barnes, director of communications for the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General.
In 2004, Costco and other warehouse clubs were told restricting gasoline sales to members would violate state law after the retailer posted signs at pumps requiring drivers to present a membership card. The membership card requirement ultimately was abandoned by those companies operating in the Garden State.
The attorney general's office in its recent statement did not explain how it came to a different conclusion in 2004.
Costco has not responded to requests for comment on the reason behind its plan to turn away anyone from its gas pumps who is not an active club member. Its gas prices are often lower than its competitors and its lines are sometimes longer than a few cars.
Meanwhile, BJ's has continued to serve all motorists gas despite its longstanding station signs that say "members only."
A basic annual Costco membership costs $60.
Gas prices at many New Jersey stations are hovering under $5 a gallon with some Exxon stations having among the highest prices exceeding $5 a gallon.
Meanwhile, Barnes said the attorney general's Division of Consumer Affairs encourages New Jersey residents to contact the division if they become aware of or may be subject to price gouging at stations in New Jersey, and file a complaint .
"The Division of Consumer Affairs is committed to standing up for New Jersey's consumers in the face of unfair and deceptive acts and practices," Barnes added.
This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Costco gas service for members only allowed in New Jersey