The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. They get the award for the following.
MERRILL -- With gasoline prices rising, a Merrill service station made an attractive offer: Save 3 cents on each gallon and support local youth sports at the same time.Classic bureaucratic stupidity. A local business owner wants to give consumers a break and support the community. But don't do that! This is consumer protection, making people pay higher prices? For enforcing an assinine rule, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
Senior citizens also paid less for gas, saving 2 cents a gallon.
That was until the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection heard about the offers and informed Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari his discounts were too good to be legal.
Bhandari said he was unaware the offers -- a card supporting the Merrill Youth Hockey Association and a senior discount -- violated Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act, which requires retailers to sell gasoline for about 9.2 percent above the wholesale price.
The law had been explained to retailers in a December 2003 letter. Bhandari has owned the Merrill store since May 2006.
He said he received a letter in late April from a state auditor saying the cash discounts he offered put his fuel prices too far below the state's minimum markup.
"In our case, it's cutting the state margin," Bhandari said.
He said he informed his customers the discounts had ended but worries they think he halted the offers to make more money. Bhandari said he could be sued by the state if he continued the discounts. A state penalty would be assessed for each gallon discounted, with the amount decided by a judge.
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