Ever since 1982, when Atlantic Richfield did away with credit cards and lowered gasoline prices, a small number of competitors have been saying: "Wait till next year." What was supposed to happen next year? That's when Arco, having eliminated competition, would raise prices and gouge the motoring public.
For six years, we at Arco have been hearing this absurd claim, and for six years the complainers have been forced to eat their words. Yet even though "next year" has never come, the claim continues to draw headlines and columns of type--most recently in a March 11, front-page Times story ("Arco's Low Prices Buy Problems").
The simple facts are these:
(1) Arco is committed to offering top-quality gasoline at low, no-frills prices. Arco is proud to be the consumer's friend and will remain so.
(2) The gasoline marketplace is fiercely competitive, especially in California, where Arco, Chevron, Shell, Unocal, Mobil, Texaco and Exxon have strong positions. Even as the No. 1 gasoline retailer in the state, Arco enjoys only an 18% share of the market. In such a tough environment, no single company can unilaterally drive up prices, even if it wants to.