Extremely slow gas pumps (at BJ's)

So I get into town and am low on gas, and as usual I make my first stop at BJ’s for gas. It’s a little out of the way, but often 10 cents or more cheaper. (Actually, I was going to forgo the savings, it being the afternoon before Labor Day weekend and sure the place would be jammed, but a 16-cent price difference made me go the extra quarter-mile.)

So as always when I get there on any busy day, there are cars waiting for the right-hand slots (driver’s side fill) and only the lucky people who have passenger-side fill or are willing to drag the hose across their car filling up on the lefthand slots. The lines are long but it’s right on the balance of making it worth waiting.

Until I get to the pump and remember again why I try to avoid buying gas at BJ’s: deadly, deadly slow pumps. The third decimal place on the amount is never unreadable and the first decimal ticks over about every two seconds… let me see, that would be 360 seconds for the 18 gallons I bought, just about right. That’s the truth, folks: 5 minutes or more to pump 18 gallons. That’s at least twice as slow as any other pump I use regularly.

My question is: why?

I get that self-serve pumps often run slowly to keep inept drivers from puking fuel all over the ground (I’ve used full-serve pumps at full speed and it’s a HELL of a lot faster… and easier to spill, even these days.) But if every other self-serve around can run at, say, 10 gallons a minute, why does BJ’s think 4 gpm is a great speed?

I could further speculate that BJ’s gets particularly inept drivers, ones who rarely buy their own fuel until there is a huge price spike or differential and then go to the very cheapest source they can find, and are the ones who fumble with everything and spill some fuel even with all the safeguards. But that can’t be it, all the time.

I wonder… if BJ’s doesn’t really want to sell gas. If having the gas station is a come-on and a service to attract members, but set to deflect sales with long lines, slow waits and very slow filling. If they only sell, say, 2/3 of the gas they could sell with more efficient service and over the long run sell maybe 1/2 of what a satisfied customer base would buy, the small margin on gas wouldn’t hurt their bottom line. Better to sell very little product near cost than a lot of it, even with the overhead.

Unless someone else has an idea why every BJ’s runs their pumps somewhere around one-third to one-half speed?

I don’t know, but I think this thread would be much more popular if you switched gas pumps and BJ’s in the title.

That may explain the slow pumps.

Maybe it’s so you can get a bj while you pump.

Um… you know you can drive around and come in the other way so that side is now on the driver’s side don’t you? Or are there some odd one-way gas stations I’ve never seen before?

NJ Turnpike rest stops.
Despite the fact you’re separated from the road by a guardrail & about 100’, in a parking lot big enough for tractor-trailers to maneuver, you’re car MUST be facing the direction of travel, & since NJ requires attendants to pump it for you, it is enforced. You’ll see 10-15 cars in line on one side of the island & open pumps on the other side. :smack:

Yes. Many. Especially at the high volume places like Costco. Don’t even think of coming in against traffic at Costco with 6 rows of cars lined up 5-8 deep waiting their turn.

Pumps need their filters change.

Don’t even think about thinking it, that is.

I doubt that 24 pumps have clogged filters simultaneously and for years. This is not a new situation nor applicable only to a few of the line.

Well I’ll be ding danged (an expression we use here in the MidWest… if you’re over 100). My first thought was even some of he plazas on the interstates, but I know I’ve seen people going both ways in other states (I haven’t driven much in NJ). Why on earth would you leave half of your pumps open only for the 10% of the cars with the gas cap on that side?

I’ve never filled up at Costco, but I just zoomed in on Google Earth to the one near me and by golly you are right. Not worth saving 10 cents per gallon (which would be $1.20 in my car) to wait in line.

New Jersey, nuff said. :wink:

I’ve posted before on this, but I’ve never gotten a clear answer. What happens if you drive up in one of those old cars that have the gas cap in the middle of the car?

We have one of those, and it also has a locking gas cap. I would feel pretty strange getting out to take off the cap, and then getting back in the car so somebody else could pump the gas.

Who wound want a slow BJ at a gas pump anyway? People tend to get irritated if you block the pumps very long while being orally serviced…so quickies work best at the pumps. For slow ones, go behind the dumpsters…where trash belongs. :eek:

You can use a pump from either side, of course. Duh.

You can also go up in a bigger fireball from a rear-ender, Pinto style. Modern cars have the tank and filler ahead of the rear crush zone, which is why the filler is so far forward.
Okay, besides blowjob jokes and dissing on warehouse store gas service (if you catch it without lines, a minute or two’s wait is well worth $3-4 savings)… anyone care to speculate on the reason for extremely slow pumps, and my theory about them?

Who’s the gas-pump godfather in New Jersey’s legislature?

Gas stations rely on fast turnovers to make a profit. The station doesn’t make all that much per gallon. Volume sales are key.

I suspect there may be an issue with the nozzle? Some states like California have these elaborate vapor recovery systems. You’ll notice any pump automatically slows down as it gets close to the prepay amount. It can’t risk going past however much was prepaid.

anyway, I suspect this is causing the slow fill ups.

Hence my question: what could BJ’s possibly be gaining by setting their pumps so slow? (My theory: fewer sales and thus lower losses on a loss-leader item.)

None of the above apply. You might find vapor-recovery nozzles a novelty; I lived in California until a few years ago and most states north of the Mason-Dixon (including most NE states) have them as well. I’m comparing these pumps to others I use in the same 10-block radius and elsewhere.

The slowdown-to-prepaid thing doesn’t apply when it’s an open-ended charge. (There is probably a charge limit to protect the merchant; when gas prices shot up a lot of people were bumping into $50 limits.) But it’s slow at the start and slow at the end. (There used to be a station that had a $50 or $60 limit and whether or not you wanted more, it would slow to a trickle for the last three or four dollars… very frustrating to wait out.)

No, as far as I can tell the slow pumps are (1) universal at BJ’s stores and (2) a deliberate choice on management’s part. It’s not seasonal or temperature-sensitive, related to station tank capacity or affected by price or status of car fill. It’s just very, very slow all the time.

ETA: I just used their customer service portal to ask. Let’s see if I get an answer (1) at all or (2) that isn’t hand-waving BS.