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Running on empty

Operators of Delmar Getty expect to go out of business as corporation fights in court

The Getty gas station operated by Faiza Warsi and her husband in Delmar.

The Getty gas station operated by Faiza Warsi and her husband in Delmar. Photo by Alyssa Jung.

— Warsi is a commission station operator, meaning she and her husband do not own the store but instead pay rent to operate it. They also don’t actually buy any gas, either. They earn a small commission on whatever Getty fuel is sold there. The operators can’t switch to another gas provider for these reasons.

Warsi eventually told Getty she didn’t want to do business with them any longer. On Friday, Feb. 10, Getty came to drain the gasoline from her tanks.

According to Graig Zappia, a business law attorney at Tully Rinckey law firm in Albany, it is legal for gas companies to set a different gas price for cash and credit purchases, no matter how large the difference in price is.

“There are just notification requirements they have to abide by,” he said. “The company just has to post both prices on top of the pump that you are using.”

Warsi said gas sales were 80 percent of her business, with cigarette sales making up the majority of the rest. Now sales on all items inside the convenience store have dropped off significantly. She said it’s only a matter of time before the store closes.

“People don’t understand that we only make commission,” she said. “No matter what the gas price was, we only made about 6 or 6.5 cents per gallon.”

Salman has since had to get another job to be able to provide for his family. He was unable to be interviewed for this article. Numerous calls and emails to Getty Petroleum asking for comment were not answered.

Warsi said the only reason their business is still open is because of the loyalty of her customers.

“They’ve seen my children grow up,” she said. The couple has a junior and a sophomore at Bethlehem Central High School, a seventh grader and a fifth grader. “Tell me at this age, now when your children are getting ready to go to college and you are standing empty handed. It’s heart breaking.”

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