The Unfair Sales Act is unfair according to the Flying J. The massive gas retailer recently filed a federal lawsuit in Milwaukee asking that Wisconsin be prevented from enforcing the unfair sales act also known as the minimum mark up law. The law requires retailers to sell fuel at a certain percentage over wholesale. This comes just four months after a federal judge sided with Flying J in a separate case. The judge ruled the law was unconstitutional in the way it was being applied.
Matthew Hauser of the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association supports minimum markup because it prevents predatory pricing. He says this when a conglomerate can come in and offer cheaper gasoline, thus driving out the competition. Once other retailers are out of business, the conglomerate can bump the gas prices to a higher rate than before. Hauser also believes the law preserves competition and Wisconsin current…is an indicator. He notes within the state, 8 out of 10 gas stations are locally owned and there are nearly 3000 stations and stores.
But an attorney for a small business owner who filed suit last June in Dane County Circuit Court, challenging minimum mark up disagrees. Robert McNamara says his client Raj Bhandari offered gasoline discounts to senior citizens and supporters of youth sports league. These programs are illegal under the Unfair Sales Act. McNamara says it's these types of programs that "mom and pop" businesses need to stay competitive. McNamara also notes that in other states where minimum mark up doesn't exist, the predatory pricing scenario is not occurring.