Legislation Allowing Gas Discounts Heads to N.J. Governor

Permits any station owner to participate with any supermarket, restaurant or department store

Craig Coughlin

TRENTON, N.J. -- The New Jersey Senate approved a bill by a 38 to 0 vote intended to help ease gasoline prices by allowing retailers to offer rebates and promotions for purchasing gasoline, giving it final legislative approval, said NJToday.com. The bill now goes to Governor Chris Christie for his signature.

"Consumers benefit daily from savings through coupons, discounts and other promotions at just about every business in New Jersey, except for gas stations," said assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D), who sponsored the bill in the assembly. "That's why this antiquated law needs changing. Gas is something most people have no choice but to buy, and this bill simply opens the door to more savings when New Jerseyans head to the pump. That's a good thing by any measure."

The bill (S-2927/A-3133) stipulates that a consumer who earns credits through purchases on a credit card, debit card or rewards card may use those credits to receive a rebate or discount when purchasing gasoline.

New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association executive director Sal Risalvato applauded the Senate's passage of the bill. In a statement, he said, "S-2927/A-3133 is especially a win for consumers and motorists who will now be able to earn rewards from supermarkets, restaurants or department stores that are creative enough and willing to market their products with rewards redeemable at gasoline stations."

He added, "Gasoline retailers are satisfied with the amended version of S-2927/A-3133 because now their customers can earn rewards from other merchants to assist with their gasoline purchases. Because profit margins are razor thin, gasoline retailers can't afford to discount the price of gasoline, and welcome assistance from other merchants who have much more healthy and robust profit margins in which to reward their customers."

Concerned about harming small-business gasoline retailers unable to compete with the "big-box" gasoline retailers, Risalvato said, "Gasoline retailers had a concern with the original version of this bill because it would allow rewards to be tied to the sale of gasoline even if it resulted in selling gasoline below cost. This would further uneven the playing field and allow big-box retailers to easily put small-business owners out of business and remove competition from the street."

In other states where different types of rewards and loyalty programs have been permitted, small-business owners who own the stations "endure a tremendous amount of pressure from their major oil company landlords and shoulder the burden and costs of reward programs," Risalvato said. S-2927/ A-3133 permits any local gas station owner to participate with any supermarket or restaurant or department store without interference or profit taking by a major oil company brand.