The only place where full-service still works, says Lenard, are situations where somebody else is footing the driver's gas bill. "In Washington, D.C., " he says, "you still see full-service stations that cater to diplomatic families."
High prices have brought another headache to station owners: gasoline theft.
The problem, says Lenard, is completely different from what owners saw five years ago. "Then it was kids stealing $5 worth of gas. Or it was adults stealing a full tank so they could 'stick it to the man.'" But theft today is on a completely different scale.
Most pumps now are pre-pay, so thieves get around that problem by stealing directly from a station's underground tanks. Lenard cites the case of a Florida thief who removed the tank's protective manhole cover, parked right above it, and made off with barrels worth of fuel.