PORTLAND, Maine - The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) yesterday unanimously approved a proposal to revise Handbook 44 to remove restrictive language governing fuel price discounts and insert provisions that will provide retailers with the legal means to implement pro-consumer fuel marketing programs. The new provisions take effect on January 1, 2013.
"NACS has worked with NCWM and its retail price posting task group for more than a year to reform the code and allow retailers to implement creative marketing programs," explained NACS Vice President of Government Relations John Eichberger. "The current provisions essentially require every price at which a fuel product is offered for sale to be conspicuously posted on the dispenser and restrict the ability of retailers whose dispensers cannot automatically roll back the price from offering fuel discounts. We are pleased the conference adopted the task group€™s recommended changes."
Eichberger explained that the goal of the task group was to facilitate the introduction of fuel price marketing programs while ensuring consumers are protected from deceptive practices.
"We wanted to create rules that would provide retailers with the ultimate flexibility to benefit consumers, while ensuring that consumers and public officials could effectively audit a transaction and ensure that the price promised was actually the price charged."
The new requirements can be broken down into two categories:
- For pre-delivery discounts: A dispenser that is capable of rolling back the posted price shall do so. (For a dispenser that is not capable of a price roll back, all discounts shall be treated as "post-delivery discounts" and subject to requirements listed below.) Dispensers will display or be capable of displaying the final unit price prior to any post-delivery discounts following a deliberate action by the purchaser. (A deliberate action could include the swiping of a debit card or loyalty card or paying the clerk with cash prior to initiating the transaction.) Other discounts applied after the delivery can be, at the election of the retailer, posted on the dispenser for marketing purposes. Dispensers used exclusively for fleet sales, price contract sales or truck refueling are exempt from these requirements.
- For post-delivery discounts: The unit price at which the dispenser is set to compute shall be the highest unit price for any transaction. All purchases must be accompanied by a printed receipt recorded by the system (no hand written receipts or hand calculated discounts are permitted €" such transactions are already prohibited) that includes the dispensed price per unit, total quantity delivered, total price shown on the dispenser, an itemization of the discounts to the unit price, other discounts applied to the total sales price (such as $2.00 per fill up with purchase of a hot dog) and the final price of the sale. When available, the customer may be given the option to receive the receipt electronically.
NACS will publish the final language once it is made available by the NCWM.