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Trading Stamps

Volume 888: debated on Monday 17 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how many representations on trading stamps she has received during 1975.

Has my hon. Friend had drawn to his attention the practice of some garages which announce that trading stamps will be provided in respect of petrol purchases and at the same time say that petrol may be bought by means of a credit card? Is he aware that if a credit card is used no trading stamps are given? Does not this practice come close to a violation of consumer protection legislation? Will my hon. Friend at least consider suggesting that if no stamps are to be made available when payment is made by credit card this fact should be made clear outside the filling station?

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point. I believe that firms should draw this matter to the attention of motorists, since there is an increasing tendency for people to want to pay by credit card. I can understand the attitude of the garage, because it is having to pay a discount to the credit card firm. I shall consider the point. Garages should indicate that there is no such concession when cards are used.

Will the Minister consider the problem which arises when garages do not say how many stamps per gallon are to be given? Is he aware that very often garages say "quadruple stamps", but there is no base from which to work?

If the hon. Lady feels that there is considerable abuse here, and if she has information about it, I shall be pleased to receive it. It is a general practice to say "quadruple" or "fivefold", and so on. Generally, motorists seem to have an appreciation of what is involved. If the hon. Lady has a specific case in mind she should bring it to my attention.

Instead of my hon. Friend wasting his time checking up on stamps, does he not think it would be a good idea to ban these wretched things altogether and reduce the price to the consumer?

I know that some people share my hon. Friend's views. There are others who like the stamps. Many housewives perfer them. I do not see why, when there is reasonable choice available, we should impose one particular system on the consumer, when he or she can exercise that choice at will.