23 March 2011

Minimum delivery two litres

I enjoy what I do for a living, but it isn't the greatest payer. I get by. The one single thing that might force me to stop doing the work I do is the ongoing rising price of fuel, and so I'm grateful, without jumping through hoops, for the reduction in duty today.

Away from the politics of it all, I'd love to know why fuel at some garages is cheaper than others. It is all way too expensive, irrespective of which outlet you choose, but a Sainsbury's or an Asda round my way can cost up to 7p less per litre than a high street BP garage. I used to use BP all the time; it was the cheaper high street option (far more so than Shell) and the Nectar points came in handy.

Now BP costs far more than Shell, both of whom are, as far as my limited knowledge can decipher, enormous oil companies that are well reimbursed for the work they do from all consumers, not just those who take petrol from their pumps. How come supermarkets can afford to flog it for less? Do they not use the same companies to get their fuel? I know Sainsbury's make a few quid each year, but they can't possibly garner as much revenue and profit as BP.

Beyond all that, how come there is such a disparity between petrol stations supposedly representing the same company? Here I turn to my biggest single hate of all time - the motorway service station. I haven't filled a car up for years at any of the three stations I pass week on week on the M62 when commuting from Hull to Stockport. At Ferrybridge, there is an Esso garage. I stop there sometimes to revive myself via the Coffee Nation machine. Then, at Hartshead Moor, there is a Shell garage. I stop there sometimes to revive myself via the Coffee Nation machine. And, finally, at Birch Services, there is a BP garage. I stop there sometimes to revive myself via the Coffee Nation machine. Not all three in one journey, I might add.

The BP garage at Birch, especially, bears no resemblance to its alleged partners on the high street. There can be an extra 10p hiked on to the fuel per litre just because they know that some motorists have absolutely no choice but to fuel up there. Given that BP is the most expensive of the lot, there is a disparity of pushing 20p per litre between the dearest motorway service station garage and the cheapest supermarket garage. It's crazy. I'm all for the idea of making money, but this feels like tremendous exploitation.

I now fill my car up at a supermarket in Hull as the weekend approaches and then manage to get through the whole weekend - just - via this very full tank. You should watch Top Gear episodes from little more than four years ago - you can see James May standing at a pump and filling a car at 99.9p a litre. They said there would be an outcry and a taxpayers' revolt when it got past a quid a litre - right now I'd be on my knees blessing all known mystical figures if we could get it back to that.


John Medd said...

Interesting that you should baulk at petrol prices at Motorway Services but not £2/cup @ Coffee Nation. Keep a flask of coffee in your cup holder and at the end of the week (based on 1 cup/day x 5 days) you've got enough for 2 gallons of unleaded which is 70 miles in anyone's language. That's 280 miles/month - one round trip from Hull to Stockport. I'll get my coat.

Beetwaste said...

Hm. 50 miles a day round trip, no public transport, the price of fuel is crippling me. I just put £50.01 in a Nissan Micra. I never use the car for anything other than commuting to work.

I remember spending three hours parked on Hedon Road due to protesting truck drivers, and the price was 80p/litre. I cannot understand why the country has sat on it's hands and tolerated the sky-high price of what is an essential commodity.

Matthew Rudd said...

Did you find your coat, John?

I should add that I only stop for coffee when my level of alertness at 4am absolutely demands it. This isn't every week!

e.f. bartlam said...

I can say much about the UK, but I used to sell accounting software to Oil Jobbers in the U.S....people who sold fuel to stations, factories, farms, etc. Many of them usually owned C-stores or curbstores with fuel pumps.

There are a number of things that can make the cost of gas different from station to station. Over hear taxes are big factor because every civic entity charges different taxes...federal, state, county, city, even down to police districts and wards, and that's just the start.

I don't know if y'all a jumble of taxes like that, but it can make gas cheaper on one side of the street over here.

Other things are the changing price of fuel...if they bought a lot of fuel when it was cheap they can sell it cheap. Then there's branding issues...a BP station isn't necessarily owned by BP (in fact it not always be BP gas), but a BP that is owned by BP might get a break they can pass on.

Some c-stores make a killing (not unknown for some of them to bring in over a 100 grand a day)...they'll sell you gas at cost to get you in the store. Big Super Markets sell it dirt cheap for this very reason. They passed a law in Mississippi a few years ago limiting the discounts Walmart and others could put on gas.

It's like the commodity of commodities... an insane market...at least over here. I drive for a living too...1000 miles a week easy, but fortunately I get a gas allowance.

Hope you can keep doing what you like.

Yikes that was kinda long.

Neon Suntan said...

Minimum delivery is now 5 litres at most petrol stations... you can even just put £5 in if you have some spare change.

Added to which many of the petrol late night stations have replaced late night shops. So if you want any groceries past 9pm better make sure you have plenty cash or cards for the eye-watering prices they charge.