Planning/Saving for a Higher Gas Price Day
By George Anderson
A gas retailer in Minnesota has borrowed a program from home heating oil companies in the Northeast that allows consumers to buy large quantities of gasoline in advance at locked in-prices.
First Fuel Banks, reports The Associated Press, bills itself as the only retailer in the U.S. where consumers can buy gas in bulk at a set price to protect themselves from increases at the pump.
Today the nationwide average for a gallon of gas is $2.94. Art Altrichter bought 500 gallons of gas from First Fuel Banks at $2.03 per.
Pointing out the obvious, Mr. Altrichter told the AP, “Right now, to be a few pennies over $2, when it’s as high as it is? That’s a real deal.”
Mr. Altrichter said that the deal he made is nothing compared to what one of his neighbors did. Planning back a few years, the neighbor referenced is said to have purchased gas at 99 cents a gallon.
First Fuel Bank’s program is open to anyone who wishes to join. Consumers join the program with a $1 lifetime membership fee and then buy as much gas as they wish at the prevailing market rate. When they roll into one of the retailer’s six locations in and around St. Cloud, Minn. they swipe a card and input a personal identification number. The amount of gas they use is deducted from their reserve.
According to the retailer’s CEO Jim Feneis, 300 of First Fuel Bank’s members have prices locked in below $1. The most ever purchased in advance was $400,000 worth of gas.
Should the price fall below what consumers paid in advance, then they can buy gas elsewhere and leave their reserve at First Fuel alone.
Sheila Hallerman first learned about the gas reserve program when she was given a gift card as a present last year. She later purchased 100 gallons of gas from the program at $2.40.
“It still hurts,” she said. “But not as much as it could.”
Moderator’s Comment: Is the First Fuel Bank program worth emulating by other gas retailers? What advantages/disadvantages do you see for the retailer
with this type of program? Are there other areas in products and/or services where giving the consumers the opportunity to bank purchases might hold some promise? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Minnesota retailer lets customers bank against fuel-price increases
– The Associated Press/The Seattle Times