As part of an effort to prevent gas thefts, the Green Bay City Council is considering an ordinance requiring gas stations to have all of their pumps set up for pre-pay. However, a group representing independent gas stations across the state is raising concerns about the proposal.
Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association President Matt Hauser says such an ordinance would help to eliminate cases of customers driving off without paying. However, he warns it could also mean financial losses for stations in other ways.
Hauser says requiring pre-pay means most customers will pay with credit cards at the pump. He says those fees can take up as much as three-percent of the sale, which would wipe out most of the profit or have stations losing money.
Customers who pay with cash, Hauser says, often buy less than they need to fill up when pre-pay is required. He says that will result in additional lost revenue for stations.
When customers never set foot in the store, retailers also lose out on higher profit items such as snacks and beverages. Hauser says requiring pre-pay eliminates the reasons for many customers to ever come inside.
Green Bay Police say a survey of station owners found 87-percent support the ordinance, and many feel it’s the best way to create an equal policy among all businesses. Police also say that it’s an effective way to address an issue they don’t have the resources to deal with, as the number of reported gas drive-offs continues to rise with the price of gas going up.
Hauser says there’s no real consensus on the issue statewide, with their own surveys showing members split down the middle. However, he says the position of the organization is to let retailers make the decision on their own, rather than making it a mandate.
The Green Bay City Council is expected to take up the proposal Tuesday night.