02 Jun

Coupon editors must have skipped their morning coffee

So I'm prepared to accept defeat with this Gripe, provided someone can explain the reason why. Until then...

There was a coupon in our local newspaper which provided a discount for purchase of gasoline. I clipped it out for use on Double Coupon Tuesdays at SuperAmerica (they accept any competitor's coupon as well). Here it is:

Confusing, I know

I must have skipped Rational Thinking 101 in college, because to me, it would seem like this coupon essentially penalizes you for paying with cash.

Sure that damn Visa commercial from a number of years ago shows everyone paying with a Visa card and being happy because the total transaction time with the cashier is almost nil. Then, they show some doofus guy (again, a guy -- always a guy) that wants to pay for his purchase with... gah.... cash! (insert blood-curdling scream). The cashier gives him a goofy look. The horror!

Anyway, with gas stations, it's slightly different. They work with such slim margins that paying with cash is encouraged. Transaction fees from credit card companies start to eat away at profits. Couple that with the fact that the use of credit cards for paying-at-the-pump eliminates the need for the consumer to enter the store itself, further diminishing the success of the store. Stations make most of their profit not on the gas, but on purchases inside the store.

So how do they attract you into the store all while getting you to pay with cash? They invent a special discount (coupon or not) for paying with cash. Since you can't pay with cash at the pump, you pay inside. Bills Superette is one example where you don't need a coupon -- they tout it on their sign outside. "Pay with cash, save $0.05/gallon"

So with that said, when you break down the coupon above, it doesn't make any sense:

  1. You can save $0.10/gallon period, as long as you use the coupon and pay inside or
  2. You can save $0.03/gallon, but you must use cash

To me, point #1 says that you can save 10 cents while still using your favorite credit card to pay for it. The only restriction is that you are limited to 15 gallons. I think the vast majority of people will find that 15 gallons will fill up their tank, or nearly all of it.

It would seem the only benefit out of #2 is if you are a trucker, and want to put in 100 gallons or something. Then option #2 looks better. But are you really going to pay the tab with $400 in cash? Probably not, or risk getting mugged on your walk back to the semi.

So with this coupon, there is no real incentive to use cash. And now on top of the 10 cents off you are offering the consumer, the credit card fees are going to further eat into your profits.

And yes, the gas station did take 10 cents off per gallon (20 after doubling) despite paying with a credit card. As a matter of fact, the cashier had to do a double-take, trying to figure out themselves why the coupon was worded in the way that it was.

Dumber... slowly but surely, they are trying to mold us...

Categories: Amusement , Gripe