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    City Ordinance Eliminates Gas Drive-Offs

    By requiring prepay in Kansas City, Mo., incidences plummet during the past year.

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- While city officials are praising the work they have done in eliminating gas drive-off incidences here by enacting an ordinance for mandatory pre-pay at the pump, a gas retailer in the area is crying foul, claiming that larger chains are getting an advantage by the ordinance, The Associated Press reported.

    The city ordinance has reduced the number of drive-offs from more than 1,100 in 2005 to virtually none over the past 13 months, the AP reported, citing police data. After taking effect last summer, only 24 drive-offs have been reported -- 20 of which were an estimate from a patrol division that did not officially keep track during that time, according to the report.

    "That is excellent," city councilwoman Deb Hermann, who also sponsored the measure, told the AP. "Based on research into what happened in other cities, we anticipated a drastic drop-off."

    While many gas station owners have been pleased with the reduction of drive-offs, one owner claims he has been hurt because the ordinance took away his cash customers, the report stated.

    "It's been a bad idea," Dennis Carter, owner of several gas stations in the city, told the AP. "The law, the way it's written, gives a certain company an advantage over the rest of us."

    Carter claims that QuikTrip gained customers as a result of the ordinance, due to its patent on cards that allow customers to be pre-approved for gas purchases, then pay with cash after they fill their tank, the report stated.

    In addition, cash customers don't want to estimate how much they can put in their tank and how much gas they need ahead of time, he told the AP.

    "I've lost at least 50 percent of my cash customers," Carter said.

    Another gas retailer in the city, Howard O'Neil, told the paper he hasn’t seen any losses due to the ordinance.

    "We haven't lost any business," he told the AP. "Not at all. In fact, last year my business went up about 20 percent."

    And while there have been some complaints, mostly from out-of-town customers, O'Neil prefers prepay.

    "Even if they stopped the ordinance, I'd still make my customers prepay," O'Neil said.

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