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    Shipley Navigates Around Credit Card Fees

    Tom's Convenience Stores offers and accepts the Revolution Card, a competitor to MasterCard and Visa that only takes a one-half percent fee from each transaction.

    By Tammy Mastroberte

    YORK, Pa. -- As the battle with credit card fees rages on for retailers in all industries, convenience store operators continue to look for ways around the increasing impact these fees are having on the bottom line. For Shipley Energy, one of the answers is Revolution Card.

    "I can tell you it has made a dent in our credit card fees," Bob Astor, wholesale fuels business manager at Shipley Fuels Marketing LLC, told CSNews Online.

    Revolution Card is a credit card offered by Revolution Money as a way for merchants to save on transaction fees, and for customers to have increased identity protection, according to the company.

    Retailers only pay one-half percent per transaction in fees—a big difference from its competitive cards like Visa and MasterCard—and the card can be branded with the retail company that distributes it. However, the branded card can also be used wherever Revolution Card is accepted, including retailers such as Murphy Oil, HyVee, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Whole Foods and Marshalls.

    Customers benefit as well because the card does not have a name on it, and is PIN-based instead of signature-based. If a card is stolen or lost, it can’t be used by anyone who does not have the PIN. And many retailers are offering incentives for using their branded Revolution Card, similar to a loyalty program. Shipley offers customers 10 cents off per gallon.

    The company’s 25 Tom’s Convenience Stores locations started offering and accepting the card a little more than a year ago after searching for an alternative to other major credit card companies.

    "As gasoline was getting higher and higher over the summer, the fees from the major credit card companies were taking more and more of our profit margin," Astor explained to CSNews Online. "We had been searching for a way around this for some time, and then we met with Revolution Card, and we liked what we heard."

    At the time, Revolution Money was new, but Astor recalled Shipley decided to take a chance and started a small pilot program last summer, mostly with company personnel to get a "feel for how it would work, and if there were any issues," he said. "But it worked like a charm."

    In the fourth quarter of 2007, Tom’s Stores began offering the card, branded Shipley and Tom’s, to its customers, as well as accepting other branded cards in its stores. However, only customers with the Shipley-branded card can benefit from the gas price promotion.

    "We accept anyone’s Revolution Card, but in order to get the 10 cents per gallon discount, it has to be a Shipley-branded Revolution Card," Astor said.

    Registration forms can be filled out at the stores and mailed in to receive a new card, but the company also hosts onsite kiosks from time to time were customers can sign up on the spot and get the card immediately, Astor noted.

    Customers can also fill out a form on the company’s or Revolution Card’s Web site.

    "The card has exceeded our expectations as far as the percentage of our customer base using them, and acceptance continues to increase," Astor said. "We are extremely happy with it."

    The company plans to continue giving customers a discount on gasoline for use of the Shipley-branded card through 2009, which has shown an increase in gas volume sold as a result, Astor said, noting the company may offer additional promotions when the warmer weather returns.

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