E-Mailing Large Companies

Sometimes, we have questions about some basic aspect of a company and we don't know who to turn to and ask. There's always tech support, customer service, or some other such thing, but the people who answer the phones or emails have nothing to do with how things are done at the company. It would be so nice to be able to directly ask the person responsible for something, but that is just impossible. All we are left with is a faceless giant.


  1. 9/10 of a penny and gas prices
  2. weather.com's flash ads
  3. name-brand vs. off-brand gas quality

To: Shell, ExxonMobil, Texaco, and Chevron
Subject: 9/10 of a penny and gas prices
Date: sometime in 2001
From: WCSL

Hi. I've been purchasing gasoline for my car for 7 years now. What I can't figure out is why _____ charges prices with 9/10 of a cent added on when I can't actually get change back on my purchase. I don't think _____ should be advertising this price when there's no way _____ can honor it. It seems to me to be a blatant scoffing at the consumer and a show of power.

From: Chevron

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chevron's consumer affairs department regarding a recent event or concern involving a service station. We answer all written inquiries in the order in which they are received.

Currently we are experiencing a backlog of files, and will answer your inquiry shortly. We give no priority to files based on the manner in which they are sent to our department, as each file is worked in the order in that it was received, whether via regular US mail or e-mail.

Thank you for your patience.

Consumer Affairs

From: Chevron

Thank you for your e-mail to Chevron in which you inquired about the $.009 used in pricing fuel at service stations.

I would first like to explain that the $.009 is not set by Chevron, but rather, by the independent dealer. It is generally based on retail prices prevailing in the marketplace. Chevron sells gasoline at the wholesale level to independent dealers and each dealer sets his price according to his own business judgment. The wholesale price may or may not (and often does not) use $.009 in the price.

A dealer does not have to use $.009 in his pricing. Historically, however, the $.009 has been used as a marketing tool by many dealers. For example, rather than increase the retail price to the next whole 1.0 cent, a price of $1.59.9 may be more attractive to the price conscious customer than $160.0. We suspect that Chevron dealers will continue to set their prices or some other fraction of 1.0 cents as long as competitors continue to do so. We do not know who first began using $.009 pricing.

I hope this information has been helpful to you.


Chevron Consumer Affairs

From: ExxonMobil


Your e-mail has been sent to me for reply.

The use of .9 is simply a retailing convention. It is not limited to gasoline sales but found on just about everything from paper clips to cars. It is a way of stretching to post the lowest looking price, given the cost of product and the retailers required margins. It has also been that way for years.

Thank you for contacting ExxonMobil.

Sheila Root
Exxon Mobil Corporation

From: Texaco


This is in reference to your correspondence regarding the way gasoline is priced.

I am not sure there is any single reason why the "pump price" per gallon of gasoline consistently ends in nine tenths of a cent. As you might expect, one of the reasons for this practice is that it is a perceived marketing advantage. just as $9.99 is perceived as being less than $10, .999 cents seems less than $1.

This is a long standing practice dating back to the advent of mechanical/electronic equipment. If a dealer were to round off his price, he would certainly have to round up but, of course, doing so would give his competitor the marketing advantage.

While there are no plans at present to discontinue this method of pricing, we appreciate you writing to share your suggestion. Our customers' opinions are always welcome.


Susan Klesel
Customer Service Representative

To: weather.com
Subject: Advertisements
Date: 2002 November 12
From: WCSL

I'm really disappointed that weather.com has stooped so low with the ads they choose to display. I do not appreciate having my browser taken over by a full screen ad or having Michael Jordan talk at me in a Hanes ad. If you don't start practicing ethical behavior then I'm going to start going elsewhere for my weather information.

From: weather.com
Subject: Thank You from weather.com! (KMM2488264V45467L0KM)
Date: 2002 November 12


Thank you very much for taking the time to write to The Weather Channel and weather.com.

Your question or concern is very important to us and will be addressed by a member of our On-Line Customer Advocacy Team and/or, where appropriate, may be referred directly to the appropriate department for further consideration. We will make every effort to reply as quickly as possible.

From: weather.com
Subject: Re: Advertisements (KMM2511286V99141L0KM)
Date: 2002 November 22


Thank you for e-mailing The Weather Channel and weather.com!

I will be glad to forward your comments and concerns to our advertising content and development teams for their review and consideration.

Best Regards,

On-Line Product Support
The Weather Channel/weather.com
Live By It!

To: Shell, Texaco/Chevron, ExxonMobil, and RaceTrac
Subject: name-brand vs. off-brand gas quality
Date: 2005 April 19
From: WCSL

Hello, I've been purchasing gas for my car for 11 years now, and I've always wondered why ___ gas stations always charge more than off-brand gas stations. Is it the same gas or do the off-brand gas stations get lower quality gasoline? It seems particularly important now that gas prices are getting so high.

Thanks for any reply.

From: Shell
Subject: Shell
Date: 2005 April 20

Dear Leif,

Off brand and Shell gas is not the same gas. It may start off as the same gas, but once in refineries Shell has additives that gives it a better quality and makes it a quality fuel.

Customer Care

From: ChevronTexaco
Subject: Branded Vs Generic Gasoline ( price of gas question)
Date: 2005 April 21


Thank you for your inquiry. It has been forwarded to us here at ChevronTexaco Fuels Technical Service.

There are definite differences between brands of gasolines. The major difference is the detergent cleaning additive each company adds to their fuel. There is no better gasoline than Chevron gasoline because Chevron's detergent cleaning additive "Techron" is unbeatable in the field for what it does.

When you go to a Chevron station anywhere in the United States, you are getting Chevron gasoline with the Techron additive (Chevron's detergent additive that keeps a vehicle's entire fuel system clean). Only Chevron stations pump Chevron gasoline with Techron; and Chevron stations do not carry other gasoline brands.

It is known to Chevron that car manufacturers also consider Chevron to be one of the best gasolines available. The "big three" motor companies in the Detroit area use only Chevron gasoline to help them pass the tough United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission system durability tests.

Chevron also takes great care in its quality control. While it may be impossible to say Chevron would never have a batch of gasoline that was wet or had some particulate matter, it would be rare. If it were to happen, Chevron would act quickly to alleviate the problem.

Once again, the thing that most distinguishes one gasoline brand from another is the detergent additive that cleans engines and helps them to perform better. Chevron ranks its Techron additive as being unbeatable - in other words "as good as you can get". No other company but Chevron uses the Techron additive, and no other company can say their gasoline additive is better than Chevron's.

Another factor that distinguishes Chevron's gasoline from others is Chevron's quality control, which involves special product testing and handling procedures to ensure the highest quality maintenance at several steps in the gasoline distribution network that may involve pipelines, barges, terminals, trucks and retail stations. This painstaking effort is not matched for lower quality gasolines.

ChevronTexaco does sell unbranded or generic gasoline to fuel distributors. This gasoline would not contain our Techron Technology additive and would not be delivered to a branded Chevron or Texaco station.

From: RaceTrac
Subject: gas price question
Date: 2005 April 21

Gas is a commodity therefore the quality of fuel at all gas stations will be very similar. Both branded an unbranded gasolines are of the same quality. One of the factors that determine gas quality is how long the gas sits in a tank before being sold. RaceTrac sells more than one load of gas each day on average. Therefore you will pump fresh high quality gas at RaceTrac.