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BP expands program that rolls back gas prices

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 4:07am

(AP)-- BP said Thursday that it is expanding a program to attract drivers by giving them a break when they fill up.

The oil company said it is installing technology throughout its network of 10,000 gas stations nationwide that will allow drivers to redeem instant cents-off-per-gallon savings rewards from retailers at the pump.

The BP program is similar to those offered by grocery stores and other retailers across the country who partner with gas stations to reward loyal customers with cheaper fuel.

"A cents off reward has a high perceived value for consumers," said David VanWiggeren, BP's manager of card marketing.

The program builds on its fuelperks! program that BP operates at about 200 stations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Carolinas and Georgia. BP's latest deal with Bi-Lo in Charlotte, N.C., gives consumers a 5-cent-per-gallon reward for every $50 they spend.

Grocers and other retailers have found that consumers will make significant behavior changes for fuel rewards at gas stations.

"Those dollars are special," said Tom Kloza of Oil Price Information Service who tracks rewards programs.

As on Jan. 31, BP has deployed the technology to about 350 sites. The company says the rollout of the technology through its network will be a yearlong process. Nearly all BP stations will be participating, and BP is studying whether to expand it to the ARCO-branded sites on the West Coast.

Given its geographic reach, BP is figuring that grocery store chains and other retailers will want to use it as they consider adopting fuel rewards programs or expanding existing ones.

Since BP has paid to deploy the technology, the retailer will cover the cost of the rewards that consumers redeem, VanWiggeren said.

Kloza said retailers have learned that selling gasoline is a tough business to be in so developing alliances with gas stations where rewards can be redeemed makes sense.

Gasoline stations that redeem fuel rewards also figure to benefit from increased business to its stores.

Excentus Corp. of Irving, Texas, developed the fuelperks! program.

Expansion of the program is one of several things that BP is pushing at is gas stations.

BP also has reached a deal with HarborLink to provide free Wi-Fi at participating stations. So far, it has been installed at more than 100 sites.

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