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Give Me My Discount
Even though it's against the law.

by Richard Mr. Moo Moore
May 20, 2007

Now, I do not qualify for the senior discount. That's OK. I don't mind paying full price and someone just a few years older than me gets 10 percent off at the movies or free coffee at Burger King. To me it's a good thing if a business wants to offer discounts for any reason. What bugs me is when the state comes back and says to the business – you cannot offer a discount.
Now I am not talking about a discount for a specific gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Those discounts, I could see a problem. But giving a discount to senior citizens on gas purchases illegal? Thank you Wisconsin.
Yes, a Merrill, WI gas station was told that the discount offered to seniors violated state law. And the customers now are smoked. They are upset at the owner.
The Center City BP station in Merrill is owned by Raj Bhandari. Bhandari was contacted by the Department of Trade, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in Wisconsin and told that his prices were so low, they were illegal.
Now the state didn't bust him. The state didn't not fine him. The state just let him know what the law was and he stopped the discounts on his own. Makes sense. I would have stopped too, if the state would have reminded me of the law. Maybe.
You see Wisconsin has a law that says that gasoline has to be marked up 3% by wholesalers and 6% by retailers. Now that is a pretty stupid law. But there are ways around it. For example, if the station across the street is selling gas for $3.00 a gallon, you can match their price and ignore the percentages. Or you could offer a discount if you were competing with a competitor's special offer. If Shell is offering the discount, BP could too. But the individual station cannot do it on their own.
Which means that someone across the street from the BP could have matched his price for seniors and it would have been legal?
The state is doing a Pontius Pilate (washing their hands of the messy situation) saying they didn't do an investigation and they didn't send a cease and desist order. "We just notified him of the law."
Now, I have been told that the reason for the law is to protect the guy. Sounds like the little guy is getting clobbered instead of being protected. Which probably goes to show that if the government is involved, somewhere down the road a common Joe or Raj, is going to get taken advantage of. 
Government is such a wonderful thing.

About the Author:
Mr. Moo’s libertarian side comes out every so often – especially when government makes no sense. Mmm. That’s quite often.

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