On my little commute to work I have something like eight gas stations that I pass most mornings. (There are a number of primary variations on the route since this part of the world is flat and has lots of very orderly north-south and east-west streets, so I don’t necessarily pass every one of them every day.) There are two Chevrons, a Mobil, two Union 76, a Shell, an Arco, and two “independents.” Last week I made an interesting, if hardly original, observation about their pricing policies and timing.
Last Wednesday night, I noticed another significant drop in the posted gas prices. Unleaded regular, self serve, debit-cash-company card (heretofore known as “gas”) was down to $2.13/gallon, the lowest I’ve seen it here in SoCal since March, 2009. Mind you, that’s still almost a dollar a gallon higher than the rest of the country, but that’s a different rant. I saw that exact same price on every single one of those gas stations, except for the Arco which is still doing their cash-only experiment and typically is fifteen to twenty cents cents cheaper than everyone else. They were at $1.99/gallon.
Thursday morning it was $2.39/gallon. Not at one station mind you, but at every single one of them, except for the Arco – which was back up to $2.19/gallon or something. (I tend to ignore Arco since I tend to be as cashless as possible, so I’ll ignore them from here on out.)
Thursday afternoon it was $2.49/gallon. Not at just one or two…
Friday morning it was $2.59/gallon. Not at just the Mobil or just the Chevrons…
Saturday morning it was $2.69/gallon. Every. Single. Station.
If I didn’t know better I might just think that pattern is not the result of pure market conditions, the proverbial “invisible hand” that Mr. Smith postulated. I just might be tempted to think that maybe all of those humongous, multi-national, mega-billion dollar companies were working together to screw us over.
Good thing that we’ve got the balancing force of our government to regulate those semi-monopolies and protect us little folks from being taken to the cleaners with no recourse or other options! Good thing that the good and altruistic members of our state and federal government, executive, legislative, and judicial branches included, all are working hard at keeping a tight rein on any possibility of any corporate shenanigans!
I am soooooo disillusioned! If I’m not careful, I could become cynical.