The awesome and the not-so-great side of Bi-Lo’s new fuel promotion

I love the idea, it’s a great promotion. I will continue to use it even if things don’t work the way they seem like they should. This isn’t exactly over, so I’ll let you know how it turns out, but here’s what happens.

  1. I bought several items that were on bonus for the Fuel Perks these last two weeks, and I was ready to fill up the tank, the gas warning light came on just as I was pulling into the Bi-Lo parking lot. At the end of my last shopping trip, I had $3.47 in fuel perks.
  2. I went to Spinx, one of the participating fuel vendors, and followed the instructions on the screen. The instructions were to first swipe the bonus card, which I did, then swipe my credit card, then enter my billing zip code to authorize the credit card. When I pulled in, the prices were: Regular $3.19 cash, $3.29 credit; Super $3.39 cash, $3.49 credit; Premium $3.59 cash, $3.69 credit. I figured I would get the Super, at $3.49 a gallon, with my $3.47 discount that would be two cents per gallon and I would qualify for Bi-Lo’s Dollar Club.
  3. The display screen said “Accept a discount of $3.18 per gallon? Press Enter for yes” and I had a moment of consternation, because my discount was $3.47 … so it should have said that … but then I thought maybe that was just a programming thing where it only displayed the discount off the lowest one, and when I hit “Enter”, it would correct the display on all of them. I hit Enter.
  4. Wrong. Here’s what it displayed after I hit “Enter”: Regular $0.02 cash, $0.12 credit; Super $0.02 cash, $0.12 credit; Premium $0.12 cash, $0.22 credit. What? The only one that was correct was the cash/credit on the Premium, the rest were wrong! Another moment of consternation. What to do? See, the way to qualify for the Dollar Club was to pay less than 10 cents per gallon on gas. However, since I had swiped my credit card at the beginning when prompted, I couldn’t choose any of the cash options. And, none of the credit options were below 10 cents per gallon. And, the prices were wrong on the Regular and Super, so I wasn’t going to get my full discount if I chose one of those! Since it wasn’t working the way it was supposed to anyway, I chose the only one where the price was correct, the Premium.

The awesome: I filled up my tank for right about $4, at $0.229 per gallon. AWESOME!

The not-so-great: well, shoot. I lose $20 … the amount the Dollar Club would have credited me for if I had qualified … and I SHOULD have qualified! I didn’t do anything wrong. Either Spinx and Bi-Lo are not gee-hawing on the discount thing, or it is rigged to never go below 2 cents a gallon cash and the credit is programmed to always be 10 cents more than cash, therefore you will NEVER qualify even if your discount amount is greater than the dollar amount of the gas price, if you happened to follow the on-screen instructions like I did and swipe your credit card obediently as requested.

I would suggest if you are trying this promotion, at least unless you find out something different than my experience has been, that you do these two things – one, get within 10 cents of the LOWEST CASH PRICE. Not over and not a penny or two, because it seems that triggers some sort of automatic computerized weirdness. Like, I would have stopped when my fuel perks were $3.15, which they were when I had the store trip before the last one which took me to $3.47. If I had stopped at $3.15, it would have been within four cents of the lowest cash price of $3.19. Two, don’t swipe your credit card. It’s obvious no matter how great your discount is, even over the dollar amount of the gas, it will ADD ten cents to the credit card price, even if you legitimately are over the credit card price. So you will never get the ten cents or less if you swiped your credit card. I have never paid at the pump with cash because we track fuel expenses on the credit card, but for this purpose, I would have paid cash if I had known ahead of time this would happen.

I’m going to go by Bi-Lo with all my receipts and explain what happened and plead my case. I’m also going to read over their description of the program again. I don’t remember anywhere it saying “You have to pay with cash only”, it might have mentioned “cash price”, but I don’t recall it saying “don’t use your credit card” because I usually pay attention to that sort of thing. I’ll look at the fine print, but really, this sort of thing should be in the instructions. I’ll let you know if I find out any more details that will help you get free/nearly free gas too.

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