Sam's Club Sees Its Mobile Program Go Up In Fumes

With all of the technical and political hurdles in front of retail mobile programs these days, the last thing that a major retailer needs is for rumors of flammability to undercut its retail cellphone program. Alas, that is what is happening to Sam's Club.

In El Paso, Texas, Sam's Club gas stations launched a mobile payment program. The consumer was supposed to pull up to the pump, text some numbers on a sign and be told of instant discounts and related deals. It was all detailed on a Sam's Club sign by the pump.

Customer Raelene Perea said she was about to give the program a shot when a gas station attendant approached her.

"So I took out my cell phone. I though I would find out what this is all about," Perea told KFOX-TV. When she started to text, an attendant stopped her, saying that using a cell phone while pumping gasoline may cause a fire.

The station reported: "More than 24 hours after Perea's incident at the warehouse club's station, the signs were taken down" in several nearby locations.

The risk of sparking a fire at a gas station by making a cellphone call seems quite low and industry representatives also play down the risks. But one wonders how this came about. It's unlikely the employee did this on his/her own. Did someone at corporate approve the mobile program and someone else decided it was too risky?