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NJ still weighing if stores like Costco, BJ's can limit gas purchases to members only


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The state has not yet weighed in on a plan by a large warehouse club to limit gas service to its club members after the Fourth of July holiday.

The state Division of Consumer Affairs, an agency within the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, has not publicly commented on Costco's plan despite several requests by the Courier Post for comment since June 7.

An agency spokesperson reached Friday declined to speak on the record.

Costco, a wholesaler requiring a membership to shop in its stores, recently posted signs at pumps warning that as of July 5 it would require motorists show an active membership card in order to buy fuel. Gas at warehouse clubs is often cheaper than retail fueling stations.  

It's unclear whether such a restriction is legal in New Jersey. In 2004 Costco abandoned a similar plan to restrict gas sales to active members after questions about the legality of the policy.

Costco also has made no comment to the Courier-Post about the current pending gas service change despite an emailed media request for comment. Its website has a media request form and advisory that it may take 48 hours for a response. The Courier Post first inquired about the plan on June 7.

New Jersey drivers have not been required to show a membership card at Costco stations like those in Mount Laurel or Cherry Hill.

More:  Costco posts pump signs to restrict public access to its service stations

At BJ's Wholeslale Club, despite signs saying the pumps were for "members only," motorists who didn't show a membership card were still allowed to fuel up on Friday at its Maple Shade and Vineland locations and paid the normal pump prices.

Employees there simply swiped their ID badges before activating the pumps.

BJ's offers up to 10 cents off a gallon for members who buy specific products in store or online, according to its website.

Lisa Smith of Cherry Hill says she likes BJ's gas quality and got a fill-up Friday at the $4.85 pump price for unleaded regular in Maple Shade, where there was a gas line much of the day.

Media phone calls to two BJ's corporate headquarters went unanswered and its vice president of corporate communications could not be reached immediately for comment Friday.

Carol Comegno loves telling stories about South Jersey life, history and military veterans for the Courier Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal. If you have a story to share, call her at 856-486-2473 or email ccomegno@gannettnj.com.

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