Sheetz Says 'Pump First'

Chain converting selected stores to prepay, rolling out card to facilitate new procedure

ALTOONA, Pa. -- Sheetz Inc. has announced that it will convert all of its convenience stores in the Hagerstown and Fredrick, Md., and Martinsburg, W.Va., areas to prepayment for gasoline, which will require customers to pay for their gasoline before pumping it into their tanks. At the same time, Sheetz has introduced the Pump First card for those locations. Beginning yesterday, if motorists there want to pay by cash or check for gasoline, they can start the pump themselves with a card linked to a driver's license.

With a valid driver's license, customers can receive a [image-nocss] free Pump First card at a designated Sheetz store. By swiping the Pump First card at the pump, customers maintain the freedom of filling up their tanks before going into the store to complete their shopping and paying for everything in one purchase, the company said.

The Pump First card is simply a method of identification associated to the customer's driver's license that activates a gasoline pumpit is not a credit card, Sheetz emphasized. Once the customer turns on the pump with his or her card, he or she simply fuels up and then goes into the store to pay.

The introduction of Pump First technology allows the company to require prepay for gasoline and gives on-the-go customers the convenience of starting the gasoline pumps themselves. If someone uses the card to turn on a pump and then drives away without paying, Sheetz can quickly identify the card and deactivate it.

"The cost of gasoline continues to rise and unfortunately, so do the resulting driveoffs by a few dishonest individuals. Our increasing losses from these individuals who do not pay have forced us to go to prepay as a solution to control theft. While this change will help relieve the pressure of gasoline theft, we also know that it could cause loyal, honest customers to feel unjustly penalized." said Louis Sheetz, executive vice president of marketing for the Altoona, Pa.-based retailer.

"We are pleased that we don't have to inconvenience our loyal customers. Pump First offers a solution to help us control gasoline theft and still maintain a high level of convenience for our customers," he added. "Future plans include adding other benefits for our Pump First customers, including exclusive coupon offers and even reward programs."

Also, Sheetz spokesperson Monica Jones told The Citizens Voice that it will roll out a promotion later this year in which food and beverage buyers will get discounts at the pump. It is reacting to growing pressure from supermarkets offering gasoline discounts, she told the newspaper. It has made us step up our game to do what we can to remain competitive, Jones said.

Meanwhile, the chain is offering a $5,000 gift card to the best "Sheetz Poet." The company has been accepting video submissions of contestants performing a poem about Sheetz and its "Coffeehouse Coffeez" (tomorrow, June 25, is the deadline).Click here to view the Sheetz Poet website.