Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

There's Only One Winner in the Oil Price Wars -- and It Isn't You

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

There's Only One Winner in the Oil Price Wars -- and It Isn't You

Article excerpt

Byline: kevin clark

Despite skyrocketing prices, gas is still the largest impulse buy in America.

Studies show you waste more gas driving long distances to find a station with the cheapest price. That may be true, but what if you're out driving a planned route and you just happen to stop for a fill-up? Happens all the time on vacation, although I admit those stops are motivated by "reservoirs" that are full as much as those that are empty.

To retaliate in our own personal way against fuel companies, I think many of us drive our normal routes to work, school and play and take note of the gas station signs along the way. The sign revealing the cheapest buy gets our business and we pull in for a fill-up.

This happened to me last week as I was running an errand in Jacksonville. My gas tank registered half-full and I really wasn't thinking about getting gas until I noticed a sign advertising $2.59 per gallon. Knowing gas cost several cents more at the three stations closest to my house, I listened to the siren song of saving a whopping 35 cents and whipped into the station.

Long-gone are the days of full-service, where Charlie ran up to pump your gas, clean your windshield and check the oil. We are self-service consumers throughout and gas stations have become adept at keeping up with our impulses.

As much as I love Disney World, I despise the "gotcha" capitalism to which I subject myself in those parks. It's logistically improbable that I'll take my family the 10 miles away from the park entrance to eat a sandwich in the parking lot, so the Mouse sees fit to charge me $8 for one plus another $4 for a bottle of water.

Oil companies, driven by excruciating demand, are doing the same thing. You have to get gas somewhere, they say. Eventually you'll come around to this station.

No American likes to be told what to do, so we revel in what little power we think we have by choosing another station with cheaper prices. …

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