INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Raj Singh is serving a customer who stops for gas and a Coke at the Independence Conoco station he manages. The customer asks: What's it like selling some of the cheapest fuel in the country?
He pauses, briefly, before answering.
"Dude, let me show you something," Singh says, shoving a sheet of paper across the counter. Subtracting his wholesale gas costs and 36 cents in state and federal taxes from the pump price, his station makes about 2 cents a gallon.
But that's before any other costs are subtracted. Figure in credit card fees, for example, and the station is losing money on every gallon sold.