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SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Greg Parker, CEO of the Parker's convenience store chain, and his attorney defended the retailer's PumpPal discount program in court today as part of his lawsuit against the state of Georgia and the Georgia Agricultural Commission, according to a Savannah Morning News report. Parker is seeking to block Georgia's ban on the chain's advertisement of its discounted prices.
The PumpPal Club, which allows members who sign up for its direct withdrawal debit program to receive discounts on gasoline, is a loyalty card that should be protected as "commercial free speech," Parker's attorney Shannen Coffin stated in court today. However, senior assistant Georgia Attorney General Devon Orland countered by saying that Parker practices deceptive advertising.
According to Orland, the problem with PumpPal is that consumers must be club members to receive the advertised discounts, and membership is not immediately accessible; prospective members must sign up and receive the PumpPal card.
However, Parker contends that the program, which launched last February, has been so successful that his competitors are behind the advertisement ban, according to the report.
Chatham County Superior Court Judge Louisa Abbot presided over the hearing, which was held to decide whether to allow advertisement of PumpPal discounts as the lawsuit moves forward. Abbot stated that she would hear arguments from both sides today before issuing a ruling.
"I would anticipate ruling in a short period of time," Abbot said. The judge added that if a ruling cannot be issued shortly, Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black should continue a 30-day moratorium on enforcement of the ban.
Parker's operates 24 convenience stores in Georgia and South Carolina.