First my disclaimer: I am not and have never been connected with Parker gas station/convenience stores. I don’t even know anyone who works in one of those stores.
I am, however, a frequent customer. I like Mr. Parker’s idea of providing the opportunity for customers to get discounts on their gas by creating a membership in a club with a special card. This is a process open to all and easy to do.
His is not the only gas chain that does this. His is not the only type of business that uses this marketing technique. I assume that the concept by-passes certain bank/credit card processing charges and passes the savings on to the consumer. People in general are very familiar with the “club” marketing concept.
Our state agriculture commissioner, Mr. Gary Black, has chosen to single out one business and has brought the power of the state agriculture department to bear on a private citizen and a small business for no visibly reasonable excuse. Mr. Black has brought charges against the Parker chain for deceptive advertising. Nonsense!
To start with, I have no idea why the agriculture commissioner has anything to do with service stations anyway, but that is another issue. Some bureaucratic mish mash left over from the Stone Age I guess. I would think that Commissioner Black needs to concern himself with things like the fact that the cost of an ear of corn has gone up 200 percent in the grocery store rather than create hurdles and throw rocks at a legitimate well-managed small business that has absolutely nothing to do with farming other than to provide the farmer a savings on his gas purchases.
Let’s speculate a little as to whom might have filed the complaint and started the whole fiasco in motion. Surely the complainant would not be someone living in the community in which Parker operates. How many times do you need to read the sign or buy gas at a Parker station to get the idea?
Actually, I am hopeful the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Mr. Black have more important things to do than overreact in such a manner simply from the unfounded complaint of a private citizen.
I am beginning to wonder which of Mr. Parker’s competitors has possibly complained to Mr. Black with perhaps a reminder of how big a check they wrote for Mr. Black’s recent campaign. Surely that would not be the case. Someone must have pulled in off the interstate and found out they were not reading the sign right and filed a complaint with the Georgia Agriculture Department before they continued on down to Florida.
In my opinion, the effort of Mr. Black to embroil Mr. Parker in court action on such a frivolous charge is nothing more than a shining example of bureaucratic bungling and political pandering. I have talked with other service station owners who have said they also thought the charges made by Mr. Black are nonsense.
The Parker chain provides very clean, well-designed, well-lit, well-stocked stores that are, by any measure, an asset to the community where they exist. The Parker operations actually provide those jobs the politicians are always mouthing off about when they actually have little or no ability to create them.
Mr. Black should be giving the Parker group a certificate of recognition for providing a needed community service, not suing them on a trumped-up charge.
Mr. Parker now has to spend the time and money to fight the nonsense accusation in court. Guess who is going to pay for that process? How about we the people? We will pay for the state to sue, and we will pay at the pump for Parker to defend.
Shame on our new agriculture commissioner. I can assure you that he will not get my vote next time around.
Hubbard is a charter boat captain and environmental activist living in Richmond Hill. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.