Many years ago I was at this sustainability conference thing which was kind of cool. I met a number of interesting people there. People had cool products there. I also ate food from a vendor there who has an amazing organic Thai restaurant which I ended up going to many, many times.
I remember one guy was talking and he mentioned that he was going to publishing something about which gas stations are the best/worst. However to my knowledge it never did get published. Then for years afterwards I always wondered: Which gas station actually is the best?
A lot of people like Arco however it turns out that Arco is owned by BP. So for many years I have not gone to Arco. There is another popular chain called Valero but I read somewhere that there are issues with how they treat employees, so I never went there.
There are some chains where it seems like the stations are frequently crappy. Many 76 and Shell stations I have gone to have issues with the water and/or air not working. At many stations you have to get a token from the attendant to use the air/water and to me that is annoying. Some also require that the attendant press a button in order to activate the air/water, which gets annoying if you’re dealing with an overheated radiator or trying to fill all 4 tires and have to keep asking the attendant to push the button.
Still other stations I’ve been to have had issues with the fuel pumps. Sometimes the pumps would suddenly jump out when inserted into the gas tank intake thing, splattering gasoline all over the ground and sometimes the car as well. Some of them do not lock so that you have to stand there holding the nozzle the entire time.
There is one station which I’ve used which to me clearly seems to be the best: Chevron. Nearly every Chevron station I’ve ever been to has had working air and water and does not require a token nor the attendant to press a button. Their pumps almost always seem to work well and do not leak fuel. The stations are clean. The bathrooms are clean. And the staff are nice.
These things all mean a lot to me and are indications that Chevron is a well-run company. If they are running their company well in these ways, it indicates to me that they are likely to run other aspects of their business well.
For example I do not know about best practices with respect to the actual design and or maintenance of underground fuel storage tanks, but that is a very important aspect of a gas station. If the underground tanks leak then, over many years it can create serious contamination. There are also other considerations, such as the transport of fuel from refineries to stations.
And, as indicated in the video clip for the news story above, the station staff are well-trained in dealing with emergencies. I love the response of the attendant in the video and how confident he was in knowing exactly how to respond in an emergency situation.
All of these factors then have led me to conclude, in the absence of any further information, that in fact Chevron is the best gas station, and I am happy to pay a slightly higher price for fuel knowing that the staff are well-trained, the stations are well-maintained, and that the services are always available.