Several Sam Houston State University students discovered the deal of a lifetime early Friday morning when a computer glitch caused premium gas at Brookshire Brothers to cost only $0.24 a gallon.
The students, which included several members of the Kappa Alpha fraternity on campus, found the slip-up around midnight and took advantage of the reduced price by filling up their own cars and passing the information on to friends.
“It was freaking awesome! Why not take advantage of it?” junior Orlando Velasco said.
Over 200 students flocked to the Brookshire Brothers’ gas station on 11th street between the hours of midnight and 2:30 a.m. to take advantage of the 24 cent a gallon gas. Cars lined the streets as students called each other with the news.
“I called my friends to see if a party was still going on and they told me they were getting 24 cent gas,” sophomore Jake Whitco said. “It was like Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah all put into one!”
Velasco said people were filling up more than just their cars, however. Gas cans, trash cans, barrels and Ozarka water bottles were among the containers students found to hold the cheap gas.
According to an informed official at Brookshire Brothers that wishes to remain anonymous, the store lost approximately $5,000 to the computer glitch. The official said that gas prices are created by a four digit number, for example $2.499 a gallon. On Friday morning the computer only imputed three numbers, causing the gas to be $0.249 per gallon.
“The glitch was localized to the just the Huntsville store and we sold over 2,000 gallons of gas,” the source said.
The glitch allowed students and residents to purchase gas at a price this country has not seen since 1973. At $0.249 a gallon, one student was able to purchase approximately 12 gallons for only $3.08, compared with the $31.54 they would have spent with the normal gas rate of $2.55 a gallon.
By 2:30a.m., the wait for gas was over 45 minutes, but several Huntsville Police officers arrived at the scene to tell students that they were “stealing gas from Brookshire Brothers” and activated the emergency off switch to stop the flow of gas.
“There was not a legal reason for shutting off the gas, the only reason it was turned off was because gas was just too cheap,” Walker County Police Department representative Kim Ward said.
At the time of the incident, rumors spread that Brookshire Brothers was going to get in contact with anyone who purchased gas between midnight and 2:30a.m. and charge the correct amount for the gas on their card. Representative for the Texas Better Business Bureau said that this is not exactly legal, however.
“You have the right to dispute the charge if they try to change the charge to your account. Since there is not a signed receipt they cannot legally change it without you saying so,” she said.
Whether or not purchasing gas at only $0.249 a gallon because of a computer glitch is morally offensive, or even legal, students say they saw an opportunity that morning they just could not resist.