AAA Offers Gas Price Help

Rolls out new consumer website, credit card

Published in CSP Daily News

HEATHROW, Fla. -- Auto club AAA launched the Fuel Price Finder last week in anticipation of the Memorial Day long weekend. The service is designed to allow motorists to locate the lowest gasoline prices by zip code.

Demand to access the website was so great that the service was sporadically unavailable on Thursday and Friday.

Geoff Sundstrom, spokesperson for AAA's national offices in Heathrow, Fla., told Information Week that they were forced to take the site down on Thursday, [image-nocss] but that it was up Friday, although running "very slowly." The problem was in the map function of the site, Sundstrom added.

The high demand speaks to the high interest of Americans in gasoline prices and in getting the lowest price possible," he said.

AAA posted the following notice on the site: Please be aware that due to overwhelming interest in the new AAA Fuel Price Finder we are experiencing decreased server response times. This may result in some searches not returning data. We are in the process of adding server capacity to our site and anticipate response times will improve shortly. In the mean time we appreciate your patience and interest in our service.

The site is designed to display local prices and station locations within a ten-mile radius. The data is derived from more than 85,000 individual stations throughout the United States based on recent credit card transactions.

Once on the site, users enter a zip code or a city and state, then select a one-, three-, five-, or ten-mile radius for the search. The results are provided in a map of the area with stations indicated by fuel pumps, as well as a list of stations with their fuel prices, street address and availability of diesel fuel.

This is the easiest and quickest method that motorists have of finding the most reasonably priced fuel without driving all over town, said Bevi Norris, director of public relations and public affairs for AAA in an earlier press release touting the service. Unlike fuel price sites that depend on motorists randomly entering prices they may have seen or paid at various places [such as GasPriceWatch.com and GasBuddy.com], AAA's site uses a steady stream of reliable financial data.

In addition to finding the least expensive fuel, the site provides a link to the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator, which allows users to plan ahead for fuel costs on vacation. After entering an origin and a destination, as well as the type of vehicle they plan to drive, the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator will tell users how much they should plan to spend on gas for the trip.

AAA has been tracking fuel availability and prices for motorists and the media since the mid-1970s. AAA's Fuel Gauge Report provides the national average price of regular, midgrade, premium and diesel fuel, as well as the average prices for each state and more than 250 metro areas. AAA East Central also distributes a localized list of prices on a weekly basis.

Information for all of AAA's fuel-related Web sites is proved by Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), the nation's most comprehensive source for petroleum pricing information. AAA and OPIS have worked closely for more than a decade to provide the most reliable fuel price data possible to consumers, the media and policy makers.

Separately, AAA said is also helping consumers to counteract the effect of high gasoline prices on family budgets by offering a rebate of up to 5% on gasoline purchases made at the pump with the AAA Visa credit card. Rebates appear automatically on the cardholder's monthly statement, so there are no forms to complete, the group said.