A lesson in how not to sell from Servo Savers


Servo Savers have been chasing my retail business, trying to get us to be part of their fuel discount program. Their latest pitch came today in the form of a call from their sales representative for our area. He was rude, obnoxious and threatening. I had said I would not consider meeting with them unless they provide up front an outline of what the costs would be. He refused and said I was the only one who ever demanded such information. he told me my business would suffer and may even not survive without Servo Savers. He said he had Harris Scarf, Priceline, the Kodak shop and a couple of others ready to go and wanted my newsagency in for the area. He brown nosed so much about me and my business it was embarrassing. In fact, he had no idea and was throwing everything (compliments and threats) in an effort to interest me.

I have a loyalty program operating in my business. It’s just over a year old and is responsible for 28% sales growth. It rewards customers from within the business. The Servo Savers model is built around fear about high petrol prices. It would drive my customers to petrol outlets where they can purchase what I sell in my shop./ That does not make good business sense to me. I mentioned this to the sales guy and he went off on a rant about how I don’t care about how much my customers pay for petrol. It was time to end the call.

This call was a reminder about the sales process and the damage which can be done in a high pressure sales situation. This guy lost me from any future pitch he might make and indeed any pitch from Servo savers. They ought to be more careful who they have representing their company.

The call was also a reminder to review sales processes our team follows and ensure that their pitch is professional and respectful.

About the author


I own a software company and a newsagency in Victoria, Australia. You can reach me on +61 418 321 338 or mark[at]towersystems.com.au


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  • Hi Mark
    Sorry, but this doesn’t make sense to me and let me tell you why

    Coles and Woolworths sell the same products as you, mostly and if your customers shop at Coles and Woolworths and buy these products, they will be rewarded with a 4c Fuel Discount Voucher.

    They then take this voucher to the Service Station, where again they are offered similar products to which you sell, and again have the opportunity to purchase them

    Wouldn’t it be bettter for YOU to reward your customers with Discount Fuel Vouchers in the beginning? If you reward them with quality Customer Service as well as Fuel Vouchers with a higher value that Coles & Woolworths, wouldn’t they make the decision to ALWAYS shop with you?

    I think that I can understand your distress at being brow beated my a stupid and unprofessional Sales Person, and this probably lead to your decision not to pursue the matter, but putting that aside, think about the benefits for you and your business.

    You are competing with Coles/Woolworths and the Service Stations each day and so you need to give your customers a reason to shop with you, and perhaps this is one way, along with your exceptional and friendly customer service

    Whilst I don’t know a lot about Servo Savers, I can see the benefit for small business, where the big boys seem to have the edge over you all

    kind regards

  • Karen,

    As I noted, I have a successful loyalty program which drives traffic and sales. I don’t need to push people to a retail channel which competes with mine. Petrol pricing is a con and I am better off not getting drawn into that price fixed game.

    As for Servo Savers, they are a rip off in my view and I want nothing to do with them.


  • Maybe I have too much written, I will break it up in 2 parts

    Hi ya Mark
    I was very interested to read your comments, and you are most certainly entitled to your opinion, however you seem to me to be confusing a few things and lumping them together, such as the price of petrol.

    Forget about Servo Savers for a moment, and can I ask you to examine with me the cost of petrol in Australia and other major financial dynamics that impact on Aussies today?

    Firstly, just this week, we have been told by the major petrol companies that fuel could hit $3.00 per litre

    Secondly we have had another round of interest rate hikes, and the banks have even put their rates up higher than the Reserve Bank, and both those things in turn will put up cost of everything we buy, but also what we can’t live without, and this is food.

    Send Part 2 next

  • Yep wrote too much ha! Ha!
    Hi Mark
    Part 2
    A scenario for you, imagine you are a working family, have interest rate payments, run 2 cars and have 3 kids needing to run around, this family has got to buy food, and because costs have risen, what will the be the first things that will go? The luxuries, such as Magazines from the Newsagent, and yes they may still buy their newspapers, but then again, if they have the internet (for the kids) they may decide that they can get their news from there. Where does that leave you?

    Good on you for having a loyalty program in place, but in 2008 Fuel, Food and Mortage are the big issues for people in Australia, and I put Fuel as number 1, because we all have to use it.

    See part 3, still won’t fit

  • Part 3
    As I said, forget Servo Savers, I am talking about the concept. The large companies have it all over the small business, what about Office Works, they sell part of what you sell, and I guess if you looked at everything you sold, anyone would be able to buy those products from some-one else within a small radius of your shop.

    What I am trying to say, is that business should be looking to create a level playing field if they are going to play with the “big boys” and if it means investing some money to make money, business needs to weight up the pros and cons of that investment, for their own business

    Some sales person has obviously got right up your nose, and those sort of people should be condemned for this behaviour. but if you could possibly look beyond that, and only dealing with the concept of reward programmes having the ability to retain your current customers, attract new ones and also increase your bottom line, why wouldn’t you embrace that concept?

    Thank you

  • Karen,

    My retail businesses have a loyalty program. It drives new traffic and incremental sales. Maybe you missed that in what I have written.

    The servo savers model is flawed in my view – beyond this poor salesperson.

    Petrol discounting in general is a con. The price is inflated just to fund the discount. People can do better shopping around and buying for closer to the real price.


  • Hi Mark
    I wish I could agree with you with regard to the price of Petrol. I do shop around and I find that most times the fuel vouchers are my only opportunity to save money.

    If as you say the whole thing is a con, then why do you think that ASIC and ACCC allowed it to continue? It’s legitimate business and Coles and Woolworths etc benefit from it at the expense of the little guy, and if you think that for a minute that Coles and Woolworths are going to stop, or some-one will make them stop, then you are wrong.

    I didn’t know that Coles and Woolworths would sell products such as in your shop for more than you do! I would imagine if they did, then people wouldn’t buy the product

    I still think that some-thing else is behind your strong view on this subject, as I said forget Servo Savers, forget the idiot saleperson, work on the issue at hand. Small business versus big business and what the small business owner can do to level the playing field

  • Karen,
    I hope you don’t buy a packet of cigarettes, a chocolate bar or a packet of chips or some other confectionery while you are buying your discounted petrol because if you do you have just paid for your discount with their grossly inflated over pricing.

  • Karen,

    There is nothing else behind my comments.

    Servo savers is a poor model represented, in my case, by a poor salesperson.

    My loyalty programs are working for me.


  • Karen,

    Im concerned that you think the Servo Saver concept will level the playing field. Copying your competitor doesn’t level the playing field.

    And I would also point out that the independant supermarket industry offers fuel discounts – but it is well known in the industry that outside of Coles and Woolworths, fuel offers rarely attract much interest.

  • Our business has tried servo savers before and like Mark has indicated, the way it is set up is flawed. The petrol stattions are the ones that benefit from the increased traffic we send them, yet we are locked in to minimum payment and when we get more of our our customers to above the average redemption rate set down by servo savers we are asked to justify ourselves.
    I think it would have been a good idea but badly set out.
    We pulled out after 12 months because we minimal benefit to us but massive benefits to the petrol stations that in turn made a grab for our customers.

  • Mark,
    Servo savers is a con, from the number of local firms that signed up to the program no one in Canberra, Yass or Goulburn that I have talked to is happy.Their rep was not only pushy but a bloody liar !
    Some firms have in fact taken legal action to get out of their contract.
    I have two month to go , I can’t wait to say good buy.


By Mark