When Does Gas-Price Shopping Pay?

GENERIC: School, Gas prices, schools, students
With the cost of gas as high as it is, lots of drivers are trying to find the cheapest prices when they fill up. But is it worth the extra effort?

Correspondent Trish Regan says, worth it or not, the bargain-hunting is hitting many small business owners right in the pocketbook.

"People are feeling the pinch. They're not filling up. They're getting $10 (worth)," complains Judy Moretti, who co-owns a Greenwich, Conn. Shell station with her husband, Carmen Moretti.

"I've lost 30 percent of my business," Carmen says.

When Regan visited their station, regular gas was going for $2.89.

"Our customers think we're the ones setting the prices, and we're the ones making all this money," Carmen says.

But they're not. It's Shell, Regan says, that sets the price sending the Morettis e-mails telling them what to charge.

And when it comes to price, you can bet their customers are noticing.

"I try to keep an eye on where I get my gas," Jayne Stubing says, "and if I can save a few cents a fill-up — I usually fill up a couple times a week — so it adds up."

And that, Regan says, spells trouble for the Morettis.

"We're competing with other towns that are nearby, same product," Judy says.

Five miles away, in neighboring Stamford, Conn., another Shell station was selling regular gas for $2.69 — 20 cents per gallon cheaper.

This happens because of something called "zone pricing."