On Saturday evening, I drove by my neighbourhood Esso on Crescent Drive and noticed the posted price at $1.249.
As I was busy, I planned to fill up the next morning… only to see the price on Sunday 9 a.m. at $1.309.
I later drove home down 152 Street to see the Shell, Esso and Petro Canada all at $1.309. And on King George, the Shell and lonely Husky were all at the same price.
Obviously, this is not a new observation to complain about the fixing of gas prices by the oil companies to gauge consumers. Also, there are strategic price adjustments by the gas stations to maximize their margins when consumers are most likely to need gasoline. And it is clearly absolute nonsense to hear that gas retailing is done competitively at razor-thin margins. Nothing in the cost structure changed from the Saturday evening to the Sunday morning to justify a five-per-cent increase in gasoline prices.
Another observation is that gasoline prices on our Peninsula are consistently the highest in the region, and I have frequently filled up for up to 10 cents per gallon less just down the road in Langley.
Sadly, most of the academic reviews done over the years rationalize rather than condemn the retailing of gasoline in Canada. The obvious price fixing seems to get lost in the complexity of the industry. And what about our laws regarding free-market competition and industry collusion? These are about as fair and honest as Donald Trump.
The consumers just continue to pay because there are no other options, at least not yet.
I once worked for a Canadian paper company that was fined $10 million in a plea deal agreement with federal prosecutors for price fixing fine paper with a distributor – this hurt the printing industry. Nobody went to jail but that is a significant fine.
We have had a multi-billion dollar price-fixing arrangement in Canada for gasoline for decades, which incidentally benefits the tax revenues collected by the various levels of government, and are told everything is fine.
But all this complaining may be just like complaining about the weather. Much can be said but little can be done.
Except perhaps for one option – the electric car.
In many ways, I am not ready to go electric, despite the alleged green benefits, and I don’t see the cost savings when all costs are included.
But I just may be ready to get one on the basis of principle, because I am tired of this nonsense.
John Bogar, Surrey