Traffic > Gridlock

Petron’s 50% discount was nice, but it caused traffic congestion

The country’s biggest fuel company issues apology for the trouble

Motorists patiently waited well before the 11am start of the promo. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Yesterday was the ultimate nightmare for motorists around the Philippines: Petron Corporation, the country’s biggest fuel brand, offered a 50% discount on its gasoline and diesel products over a two-hour period (from 11am to 1pm). Because we are a nation of promo-happy customers who jump for joy at the smallest freebies, the idea was a sure recipe for motoring chaos.

Our office is located in an active neighborhood in Pasig City, which has a modest Petron station by the main entrance. So we walked to the area just to see for ourselves how people would respond to such a promo offering half-priced fuel. What we witnessed were long lines on both Shaw Boulevard and West Capitol Drive. Needless to say, the lines ate whole lanes along these roads, taking away much-needed space from other drivers who had no intention of taking advantage of Petron’s cheap fuel.

Elsewhere, the situation was even worse. Photos shared on social media clearly showed vehicles crowding Petron stations in order to make it to the 1pm deadline.

The same scene took place all over the country. PHOTO FROM AKSYON RADYO ILOILO

From a marketing perspective, the promo was a smashing success. Everyone was talking about Petron. Even patrons of rival brands couldn’t resist the urge to buy affordable fuel for a change. The concept was a hit. But not without complaints about the traffic congestion it caused. Which then prompted Petron to issue this statement:

Moving forward, we expect Petron (and hopefully other fuel companies) to do a better job of executing such promos. And we admire the firm for being humble enough to own up to the inconvenience it foisted upon the motoring public.

Now, if only mall owners could do the same thing, what a wonderful commercial world this would be.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.