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Fifty years ago, it was not uncommon for a gas station attendant to be on hand with a cap and a smile, ready to fill your tank, check your tires, wax your hood and spit shine your windows for no extra charge, but the days of those kind of fine-tuned service extras have long past. Or have they?
In New Jersey and Oregon, self-service gasoline is merely a pipe dream thanks to statewide bans on customers pumping their own gasoline. (Both states' bans, enacted in 1949 and 1951, respectively, were initially due to safety concerns.) Yet, if you ask a 104-store New Jersey operator like Whitehouse Station-based Quick Chek Food Stores whether they'd add self-service gas islands if they could, the answer is an undeniable "No way," said Mike Murphy, the chain's senior vice president.
"Two of our sites are within 10 minutes of the Pennsylvania border, and we get many people that will fill up in New Jersey because they don't want to have to pump it themselves," Murphy said.
Quick Chek just started adding gasoline to its stores two and a half years ago and is now up to four full-serve gas sites. The company views full-service on the gasoline island as another means of providing stellar customer service -- something the company prides itself on. Each attendant goes through intensive Web-based training and customer service training and is educated on the safety standards relative to fuel, Murphy said.
"Customers really like the fact that there's someone out there that can communicate with them and seems to care about them as a customer," he said. "I think the uniform really means something to a customer. It's an advantage that we have in many of our locations, because some of our competitors don't have quality people out there."