A Kahaleo man searched the Internet for years for a suitable, home-based business that would allow him to be successful and provide a meaningful service.
Joe Henning found Gas Up U.S.A., a program that offers debit cards to customers and allows them to buy $25 worth of gas for $19.75.
Gas dealers still get their posted pump prices, and consumers get a gallon of gas for around $1.40 when the posted pump price is $1.80 for a gallon of regular gasoline.
Even with an annual fee of $149.95, the savings for a normal, two-vehicle family now spending around $200 a month on gasoline is around $350 a year.
Although this is not one of those programs that sounds too good to be true, Henning makes no effort to hide the fact that it is a multi-level marketing offer, and those people who become members of Gas Up U.S.A. also have the option of becoming sales representatives for the Mainland-based company.
Folks on the Mainland have eliminated gasoline payments from their budgets and generated extra cash by becoming members and sales representatives, and Henning feels the same should happen in Hawai’i with the state’s high pump prices compared to the Mainland.
“It’s a very meaningful program, I think,” said Henning. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful program, especially for people in Hawai’i,” where the state’s average pump price is always around 50 cents higher than the Mainland average.
The program uses regular bank debit cards, from a Mainland bank, and each membership allows a person to load up his or her card eight times a month, with each load costing $19.75 and giving the card $25 worth of gas.
Nearly all the island’s gas stations accept the debit card as a form of payment, Henning explained.
Individuals and families can purchase more than one membership, with each membership carrying the annual fee and allowing members to purchase up to $200 worth of gasoline each month for $158.
The cards, memberships and discounts are not meant for commercial users, but for the average driver in his or her own vehicle or vehicles, he said.
The program carries discounts on other items, too, like prescription drugs, medical and dental charges and legal assistance, but Henning got into it to help fellow Kauaians reduce the sting felt while filling up at the pumps.
“What you’re buying is a discounted card,” and the company has arranged to make the discounted cards available, he added.
It takes around three to four weeks for a membership to get activated. For now, only those with access to computers may become members or distributors, as the loading of cards, tracking of purchases and other record-keeping is all done via computer.
The company sets up Web sites for distributors (sales representatives).
Local gasoline dealers should be pleased with the program, because Henning feels if people have to spend less on gas, they’ll end up driving more and buying more.
Consumers should be pleased because the more they drive the more gas they buy, and the more gas they buy the greater the savings.
Henning, 66 and partially disabled, came to the island from Utah, and figured since gasoline is a necessity rather than a luxury item, by offering the discounted cards he is offering a service to fellow Kauaians.
“Gas is a necessity,” he said.
Since Gas Up U.S.A. started on the Mainland in July, 54,000 people have become members. It will go international soon, he said.
For more information on the program, please call Henning, 332-0140, or watch for the under-construction Web site, www.kauaigasupusa.com.