Small businesses weigh gas surcharges to customers

FRESNO, California

J&S Pool Service in Clovis operates a fleet of a dozen trucks, each are driven about a hundred miles a day. Fuel charges are piling up, so owner Jim Schaubschlager is adding five dollars a month to each of his customers bills. "It takes $75 to rill up a little truck, when it used to cost $40. You gotta do something."

Jim realizes customers are already hit by higher fuel prices themselves, and hopes his additional fuel charges won't cost him business. "It's hard to say what people will do so we're only doing what we have to do at this point."

Valley Air Conditioning already spends $12 thousand a month on fuel. Owner Tobbi Biglione says a fuel surcharge will be considered. "If gas prices continue to rise, we'll definitely have to do something."

Right now, the company is trying to be more efficient, using a GPS to keep track of vehicles, and get them to the closest service call. Surcharges would be a last resort. "We just try to recoup losses. We don't try to add cost but just try to cover our losses."

Those who really feel the pinch, and can't do anything about it, are cab drivers. "Very high prices. We can't afford." Says Fresno cabbie Guldrip Singh.

The prices he charges are set by the city … the last increase was two years ago. Singh says the high prices are really a double whammy for cabbies, because high gas prices have customers cutting back on other expenses, like cab rides. "Gas prices are too high. People are not taking taxi. People have no money."

Another business that relies on driving is Pizza Delivery. We checked with several pizza places in Fresno and they are all keeping their charges at $1.75 to $2.50 for now. Most added those charges during the last gas price spike in 2008.

Fresno area gas prices currently range from a low of $3.77 a gallon to a high of $4.11

We're currently paying on average 81 cents more per gallon than we were a year ago, but we're still 71 cents below the all time per gallon high set in 2008.

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