[quote]Those wishing to get free gifts after filling up their vehicles at Chinese Petroleum Corp. (CPC) gas stations had better think twice – as starting yesterday the island’s largest gasoline supplier had stopped giving away freebies, a practice that people have gotten used to over the past several years.
As a compensation measure, CPC is now giving customers points in the amount of gasoline price paid, and the points may be redeemed at CPC’s grocery stores.
Yet people’s response to the new policy was all but resentful. Most of them thought the change in policy was nothing but another way for CPC to raise price.
For example, a customer paying NT$700 for gas would get 700 points, which may be redeemed for a bottle of water at a CPC store. In the past customers would get a bottle of water for every NT$200 in gas price.
As for other items, a box of Kleenex would be redeemed at 900 points, and a NT$25 discount gas coupon may be redeemed at 5,000 points.
“I went to a CPC gas station today and paid NT$500 for gas. In the past I would at least get something. But now I get these points that don’t get me anything,” said one customer.
One customer was so mad that he swore he would never go back to CPC again. He can still go to the Formosa Plastics Group’s gas stations.
CPC officials, meanwhile, said the new policy had already been in practice in central and southern Taiwan since September 2005, and the company had asked gas retailers in the Greater Taipei area to raise the threshold for getting free items.
“Consumers can benefit from the new policy as they can now choose from a wider range of products at our shops,” said Chiang Chung-chen, head of CPC’s marketing department.
For the consumers, the new policy might take some time to get used to, as most drivers have been spoiled with little souvenirs that they would always get after paying a visit to the pumps.
In recent times the gifts had gotten bigger, ranging from distilled water and Kleenex to detergents, soy sauce, toys, blenders and a whole range of items.
The company however had to cut back on the freebies given higher operational costs resulting from rising international oil prices.
CPC has not raised price since the end of last year due to pressure on all fronts. Yet the company said if crude oil was traded at US$60 a barrel, and it did not raise price to reflect the increase, the company would register a loss of NT$30 billion by the end of the year.