While waiting for my groceries to be rung up at the local King Soopers, I was doing everything I could to avoid being blinded by the 51 thousand shiny magazines covered with pictures of Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears. So, I glanced down to see a flyer taped to the little check writing platform. It caught my eye because it said “cheap gas” somewhere – and “cheap gas” is way more interesting to me than who is getting custody of a rich celebrity baby or how bald and sad a former pop idol is today. So, not having much time, as my groceries were almost completely bagged, I jotted down a little information on the “cheap gas” (State House Bill 1208), trekked through the rain to the car (that I had JUST cleaned…) with my 3 year old, stepped in a puddle, got in my car and headed home.
If you are like me, driving a little out of the way to save a few bucks on gas is worth it. Luckily, the closest gas station is at King Soopers. I like this, because for every $100 I spend at their store, I can save 10¢ a gallon on gas. We are a family of 4 and 3 are hungry boys, so I get plenty of gas savings … Now, I have also noticed that Safeway, Sam’s Club and Albertsons offer similar gas “discounts” to their loyal customers. I never really gave it much thought, until I read this article in the Rocky Mountain News.
Apparently, last year some of the smaller gas stations in Montrose, Colorado “citing a 70-year-old predatory pricing law … won a $1.4 million court judgment against King Soopers for giving gas discounts to customers who bought groceries.”
This then sparked a decline in stores like Wal-Mart and Target offering inexpensive generic prescription drugs to their customers. Were they afraid of the same fate?
Now we have Colorado State House Bill 1208 that would allow supermarkets, like King Soopers, and other “big box” stores, like Target, to offer “deeply discounted gas and prescription drugs” to their loyal customers. Basically, this Bill would “remove the illegality of the loss-leader (pricing goods below their production cost) from Colorado’s Unfair Practices Act. The Act, passed into law in 1937, is designed to prevent merchants from using predatory pricing to monopolize the market.“
(Northern Colorado Business Report)
This Bill has already passed the Affairs Committee and is on its way up to the House for debate. The supporters of this Bill believe that it will “breed healthy competition.”
Ok. Healthy competition. I am all for “healthy competition” – especially when it comes in the form of making prescription medicines affordable to those who need them.
But, I really don’t know about the gas issue… I will go out of my way to save few bucks on gas, but what are the real repercussions?
Here are my dilemmas:
OR … (Here’s a stretch…)
Are we short sighted to ask for “cheap gas” or is it a necessary for “healthy competition” … ?