Giant Food Stores' Gas Promotion Given the 'OK'

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Giant Food Stores' Gas Promotion Given the 'OK'

BALTIMORE--Some Maryland gas stations owned by Giant Food Stores LLC can continue to sell gasoline at a discount of 10 cents per gallon to customers who make grocery purchases, state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer announced yesterday, reported the Baltimore Sun . The stations are located in Hagerstown and Cumberland, Md.

Schaefer said in the report the promotions do not violate a state law that prohibits the sale of vehicle fuel at below-wholesale cost.

A competing gasoline station raised a complaint last week against Martin's Food Market in Hagerstown, saying that a discount program could be a violation of state law, Michael Golden, a spokesman for the comptroller, told the newspaper. The program offered gasoline credits based on grocery purchases of at least $100.

The comptroller's office determined that because the grocery credits were the equivalent of cash, customers are "in essence paying the full price" for fuel, Golden told the Baltimore Sun .

Some lawmakers tried this year to repeal a state law banning below-cost gas sales, but service station owners and petroleum companies said the prohibition was needed as protection against chains such as Wawa and Sheetz and against wholesale clubs such as Costco, which have used low-cost gasoline as an enticement to draw shoppers to their stores.