Business: Now, the No-Service Station

Lower prices, higher sales, more profit at the gas pump

"You can trust your car to the man who wears the star," promise those familiar Texaco ads hailing the supposed virtues of the crisply uniformed gas station attendant. Yet more and more these days, American motorists find that pulling into a gas station can be a lonely experience—no smiling greeting, no wipe of the windshield, all too often not even an attendant. Sometimes indeed the station itself has disappeared, its facilities closed up entirely or transformed into animal hospitals, used-car lots or fruit stands.

The full-service station, long a familiar and comforting...

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