Code error cuts into gas rebate

May 11, 2011 8:01:30 PM PDT
The price of gasoline in the Bay Area is 10 cents a gallon higher than it was a month ago, which is making saving tough. There are fewer credit cards that offer rewards these days, but several of them still do offer rebates on gasoline purchases. At today's prices, that can be a big help. You just have to make sure you're actually receiving the rebates.

With gas prices painfully high, it seems everybody's looking for ways to save -- drive less, check tires, slow down.

Matthew Evans of San Francisco commutes to Hayward every day, so when gas prices shot past $4 per gallon, he was glad he had a credit card that gave him a 4 percent rebate on gas purchased at Union 76 stations. At least, it's supposed to.

"I want to use your card, but I want to get my 4 percent rebate every time," says Evans.

He noticed on his credit card statement he was receiving a 1 percent rebate instead of 4 percent when he bought gas at the Union 76 station in Hayward, listed under the owner's name, Avis Corporation. So he contacted the credit card company, Citibank, which issues the rebates.

"They told me that the gas station wasn't reporting any more as a Conoco or Union 76 station, which I thought was odd since they have union 76 logo," he says.

Citibank told him to inquire at the gas station about the 4 percent rebate. Evans said he couldn't get answers there.

"I shouldn't have to walk inside the gas station every time and say, 'Am I going to get a 4 percent rebate on this gallon of gas?'" he says.

Evans says at today's prices, the cash back is important. A 1 percent rebate gave him back about 4 cents per gallon, while a 4 percent rebate knocks about 16 cents off each gallon of gas.

"I calculated for a year, maybe it's $100, maybe it's $200," says Evans. "Well, for me, that's two, three, four tanks of gas, and so that's when I called 7 On Your Side."

7 On Your Side contacted Avis Corporation and didn't hear back. However, Citibank looked into the matter, too, and said indeed Evans should have been receiving the full rebate for those gas purchases. The problem was an invalid merchant code used to process his purchase.

In a statement, Citibank said, "Citi has provided a full rebate to the cardholder for this purchase... and has taken steps to ensure future... purchases receive the appropriate rebate. In addition, we are reviewing other recent 76 Mastercard purchases to ensure other cardholders received the appropriate rebate."

"It was just a couple days later that they contacted me and followed up, so power to the people," says Evans.

Citibank urges customers to check their statements to make sure they're getting the correct rebates and to contact the bank if there are mistakes.

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