Sunday, May 15, 2011

Government probe into gas prices a waste of time....

Oh boy, there's gonna be another government review of the oil and gas industry over sky rocketing prices at the pumps.  And all the while Big Oil continues to rake in record profits.  I bet executives at Shell, Petro Can and Esso are shaking in their Armani suits right now. 

I can tell you the outcome right now and save all the time and expense.  The marketplace, we will be told, is competitive and the prices we pay are a function of supply and demand.  Accusations of collusion and price gouging will be pushed aside and we'll all just have to basically suck it up and dig deeper into our wallets when filling up.

Of course there's no collusion.  How could there be?  The fact that when prices go up across the Greater Toronto Area for example, its merely coincidence that different companies hike their prices by the same amount, on the same day, at the exact same time. 

Our only recourse is the economic principle of elasticity.  What that means is we're going to have to find alternatives to driving, change our habits so that we're driving less, alter vacation plans so that we can afford a meal or two when heading out for a summer break.

I'll reiterate a suggestion I made earlier about causing the gas companies some grief. 

If you're in the process of filling up your car at midnight and let's say the price gets jacked up to $1.50 per litre from $1.38....put your hand up in the air to let passing motorists know that the price at the pumps still hasn't changed, irrespective of the fact that the station has changed the price on their big sign. 

Gas stations first change the big sign to drive away traffic so they can change the actual price on the pumps themselves.  The price on the pump is the price you pay, so if the attendant comes out and says you have to wait until the price is changed, point to the price on the pump and tell them that he/she will have to wait until you're done to change to the higher price.  And while you're pumping put your hand up and maybe a few other cars can make their way in for the cheaper price.

Of course this will cause some grief for the poor gas station attendant, but that's life.  Its not like these guys are making big bucks, even with the Shells and Essos of this world raking in billions they somehow can't afford to pay much more than minimum wage to front line staff who bear the brunt of consumer anger.

I know this is just delaying the inevitable, perhaps by only an hour at most.  And its little more than a pin prick to multi billion dollar international companies.  But even kicking Goliath in the shins brings some satisfaction.   

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