Deceptions at the Gas Pump

I did some calculations. My car gets around 22 MPG in the city, or less. If gas is $3.79 per gallon, that means I’m paying roughly 17 cents for each mile I drive.

[Rant on]

I fill up at a station three miles from my house; that’ll be 51 cents.

When I drive to class (11 miles away), that’s another $1.87. If I want to come home that evening, I shell out another $1.87.

I went to a pre-wedding party (aka wedding showers where boys are invited and nobody gives away sexy underwear) tonight and it cost me $4.59 for the trip.

When we think of price per trip instead of price per gallon, the pain takes on a whole new perspective.

Going to the grocery? Add $3 to your bill. To the movies, add $1.50 per ticket. Not to mention the fact that grocery stores are adding in “fuel surcharges” to your tomatoes.

With the price of gasoline skyrocketing, you would think that when you pump gas the price digits would quickly escalate, but they don’t. The time it takes you to pump $10 worth of gas now takes about the same amount of time it took months ago when the price was under $3 per gallon.

How can this be?

The only explanation is that gas stations slow down how much gas you pump so that the price you pay still increases at about the same rate. Perhaps this is done so you can make sure to stop right on time at $20 rather than spewing over to $20.02.

But I think another reason is this. When you are standing at the pump watching the numbers go so fast all the digits look like “8,” its just infuriating. You know you’re getting ripped off because stories like this reveal that oil companies are taking us all to the cleaners.

For crying out loud, the NYTimes said Exxon’s profit last year was a “blowout.” Well, look in the mirror to see who’s getting blown out.

Its not just Exxon that’s paying out billion dollar bonuses to CEO’s. If you want to see something that will really make your blood boil, check out what else you’re gas dollars are paying for.

<- Is paying for this –>

I guess Western Rich White Oil Executives are not all that different from the Eastern Rich Muslim Oil Executives in Dubai. This black-gold plaything puts to shame all of the supposed “American Excesses” that the Iranians and Saudis are so weary of.

Most of these record profits can be attributed to the fact that profit markups are determined on percentages, not a set markup amount. Gas providers don’t charge their “9 cents per gallon” or something like that. That’s how gasoline sales tax works; so many cents per gallon.

Oil companies, on the other hand, make their money by charging a percentage of the total. So the more it costs to produce gasoline, the higher percentage of markup they can enjoy.

[Rant intensifying]

One thing that I really can’t stand is the gasoline mind games played on us. Here’s the script:

1. Gas starts out at a certain price.

2. Something happens somewhere in the world that is an excuse for the price to “spike.”

3. The price starts to drop, ever so slowly over the ensuing couple of weeks.

4. The rest of us drive by the fill station every day like desperate stock brokers wondering if the price has bottomed out yet and we can go ahead and fill up.

5. We lose the gamble. The very morning where we determine we’re going to fill up again is the morning after some pipeline somewhere had a leak or something and the price had to “spike” again.

Whew, now I feel better. (Until I drive by Speedway tomorrow and get angry all over again!)

[Rant off]

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