Two-Tier Pricing Tossed Out

As more customers take umbrage, Wawa halts year-long test of cash fuel discounts

Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

WAWA, Pa. -- Joining a growing number of chains that have experienced similar negative sentiments, Wawa on Friday said it was discontinuing a year-long pilot program to offer discounted fuel to cash-paying clientele. The 11 stations that participated in the now-defunct pilot program are located in Lehigh Valley and Chester County in Pennsylvania and Burlington County in New Jersey.

Lori Bruce, public relations manager for the Wawa, Pa.-based chain of 560 stores in five East Coast states, told CSP Daily News that practically across the board, "customers made it [image-nocss] clear to us they did not see the value in two-tiered pricing, and in most cases [card-paying customers] felt penalized. Our ongoing commitment is to focus on offering quality, value and convenience to our customersregardless of payment method."

Wawa did not elaborate on why the 11 units selected for the pilot program were chosen over others; although Bruce called the locations "distinct." The company also did not comment on what the average price differential was between the cash and credit pricing, nor quantify the number of customers that stopped patronizing the locations over the past year.

"We don't have that degree of data," Bruce said, adding that "people talked to our store associates" about their displeasure over the program, citing it as an unfair advantage to cash-paying clientele. Bruce also said the company made the determination that the initiative was not working through its own "internal research," but did not go into detail about what the research consisted of.

Some retailers that have embarked upon cash pricing have faced scrutiny from local municipalities, state weights and measures officials and other interested parties, all of whom need to make sure that gasoline retailers are taking the proper operational steps necessary to both promote and carry out the effort. Bruce said Wawa had not received resistance from state or local officials about two-tier pricing, and could not elaborate on how the cash-price availability was communicated to customers coming to the stationssuch as whether the offer was posted on street signs, at fueling islands or both.