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    CITGO Awards Top Customer Service Stations

    This year's mystery shopper program, renamed "Image Impact Initiative," will be revised to cover 10 more characteristics of stores, and add more rewards.

    HOUSTON -- CITGO Petroleum revealed the two winners of its annual Image Value Performance (IVP) Mystery Shopper program prize drawing, which rewards stations that go above and beyond to ensure a great customer experience.

    The CITGO IVP program is based on in-person mystery shopper visits by an independent third party. Stations are judged on 14 characteristics, including assessment of store personnel, exterior signage, cleanliness, internal operations and, most importantly, the public restroom facilities, the company stated.

    Gold ratings were awarded to stations that receive a positive score in 12 or more of the 14 characteristics in the assessments. Stations with three or more gold ratings join the Platinum Club, and were eligible for the top prize. Locations that scored gold ratings on two out of three inspections were entered to win the second prize.

    "CITGO is extremely proud of the local businessmen and -women who operate the more than 7,000 CITGO stations across the country and would like to recognize all of them for their dedication to the brand," Jennifer Moos, CITGO general manager brand development, said in a statement.

    "We know what an important role these businesses play in their local communities. The competition this year for the IVP grand prizes is a testament to the dedication our local retailers have, not only to the CITGO brand, but also to their customers and the communities in which they live, to provide a high quality shopping experience."

    The top winner -- Dysart's Travel Stop in Pittsfield, Maine -- was one of the stations that garnered the highest marks in the three unannounced inspections, earning itself a gold rating each time.

    "It's refreshing in this time of economic stress that CITGO still goes the extra mile to recognize their retailers," Tim Dysart of Dysart's Travel Stop said in a statement. "We're a local business that serves our friends and neighbors, just like all the CITGO retailers, so we strive to provide a clean and welcoming environment."

    The other winner -- Han-Dee Hugo in Wilmington, N.C. -- earned gold ratings in two out of the three inspections, according to the company. Han-Dee Hugo won a 2009 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle for its performance.

    "We know that having a clean, welcoming store will help keep customers coming back," said John Clark of Sampson-Bladen Oil Co. Inc. "These days it's more important than ever to offer some kind of competitive edge. We appreciate that CITGO is rewarding stations for doing something we'd want to do anyway -- offer a great experience to our neighbors who shop here."

    For 2009, CITGO is revising the mystery shopper program to cover 24 characteristics of each retail location. Renamed "Image Impact Initiative," the program will add more rewards and recognitions to local CITGO retailers who offer customers high-quality shopping experiences, the company stated.

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