Ex-gas station manager is trying to keep GoFundMe money for ‘living expenses’ since company that fired him over mistake doesn’t want it

A row of fuel pumps of a fuel distributor at Shell gas station.

A row of fuel pumps of a fuel distributor at Shell gas station.Vito Corleone/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • The gas station manager who raised money to pay back his former employer now wants to keep the cash for “living expenses.”

  • John Szczecina is trying to keep money from a GoFundMe after the owners of the Shell gas station he worked at declined to accept it.

  • Szczecina was fired last week after he accidentally charged 69 cents a gallon for premium gas.

The fired California gas station manager who raised money to pay back his former employer over a discounted gas price mistake that cost him his job is now trying to keep the donated cash for “living expenses” since the company declined it.

John Szczecina was terminated from his manager job at a Shell gas station in Rancho Cordova, California, last week after he accidentally charged 69 cents a gallon for premium gas instead of $6.99 — an error he has described as an “honest mistake.”

The blunder caused the station to lose a reported $20,000 in sales after motorists flocked there to take advantage of the low cost amid record-high nationwide prices at the pump.

Szczecina’s sister, Paula Jackson, started a GoFundMe to repay the company that owns the station, raising more than $24,000, but the owners said they don’t want the money.

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Now Szczecina wants to keep the cash for himself, but those who initially donated to the cause can still request a refund from GoFundMe.

“We initially set-up this GoFundMe with the intention to pay the gas company with all funds collected,” Jackson said in an update posted Tuesday on the GoFundMe page. “Unfortunately, we did try to pay them but they have denied payment and do not want to accept the funds we collectively raised.”

“Despite that this was a mistake, John was still terminated last week and is doing his best to support his family,” read the update. “Funds will now be used to cover living expenses, bills, and help support John and his family from him during this difficult time.”

Jackson added: “Since this differs from why you originally donated, you can request a refund from GoFundMe.”

Those seeking refunds will need to submit their requests by June 28, the update said.

“After this date, all remaining donations will be transferred to John — and used to support his family during this unfortunate time,” Jackson said.

GoFundMe told Insider on Thursday that the organizer of the fundraiser has met its requirements when it comes to redirecting funds by posting a “clear update” to the page to “keep donors informed” that donations will now be used for a different cause.

“Since this is a change from the original purpose of the fundraiser, donors have the ability to request a refund,” GoFundMe said.

New donations have been disabled to the GoFundMe page, which had $23,493 in funds as of Thursday — indicating that at least some donors have already gotten refunds.

Meanwhile, a worker at the Shell gas station that Szczecina was fired from declined to comment to Insider on Thursday and instead referred questions to Shell’s corporate office.

A spokesperson for Shell’s US division told Insider that the company has nothing to do with the operations at the independently-owned station where Szczecina worked.

“Similar to other major oil companies, our US Shell retail fuels business and its licenses supply quality motor fuels primarily to independent wholesalers and dealers, who operate under the Shell brand and sell Shell-branded fuels,” the spokesperson said.

The rep added: “So while the name on the sign reflects the brand of the motor fuel being sold on the premises, the convenience store and the day-to-day site operations, including pricing, hiring and termination, are the responsibility of the wholesaler, site owner and/or operator who make their own operating decisions.”

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