RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif — There was at least one gas station in the U.S. this week that didn't have its customers feeling pain at the pump.
A manager at a California gas station was fired for mistakenly selling gas for just a fraction of the actual cost. His mistake gave hundreds of drivers the opportunity to save thousands of dollars on premium-grade gasoline.
John Szczecina, the now-fired gas station manager, said he accidentally punched in 69 cents instead of $6.99. For reference, the current average U.S. gas price is $5.01 and the last time the average was 69 cents a gallon was all the way back in 1978.
The error had customers calling friends and family to fill up, fast.
People started posting the low price on social media and, in no time at all, lines started growing outside the gas station.
"Well, it was a mistake that I did, you know," he said. "And I just thought, 'This is a nightmare.'"
He was fired Monday after the decimal point debacle, which cost the gas station $16,000 in lost revenue.
“So I just took responsibility for it," he said, "and I said, 'Yeah, it's my fault.'"
Now his family is worried that, in addition to being fired, Szczecina could be sued. His family started a GoFundMe for him to help pay back the $16,000.
But Craig Zimmerman, a business attorney, said Szczecina should be safe from a lawsuit. He explained that employees are protected from liability in cases like this, where they make mistakes while performing normal job duties.
"The only way he would be responsible absent a written agreement is if he was acting outside the scope of his employment," Zimmerman said. "For instance, if his boss said, 'Whatever you do, don't ever set the price on that gas pump.' And then he did."
The gas station glitch turned into a gift for drivers, but it was also a goodbye for a station manager now seeking a new job.