Editorial: drop the price

Quesnel Cariboo Observer’s Ken Alexander on gas prices in Quesnel versus Lower Mainland

Something happened on the way home from the Big Smoke (Vancouver) on Jan. 29 that might get some Quesnel and area residents up in arms.

Perhaps some folks might feel that they’re getting ripped off.

Other people might just shrug their shoulders and say, “oh well.”

As you drive out of Vancouver, where a litre of regular gas runs between $135.9 and $139.9 depending on the neighbourhood (or ability to pay), you don’t have to drive very far down the freeway before the price of gasoline drops dramatically.

A dramatic drop would be from $139.9 per litre to $122.9 per litre.

Again, it depends on the neighbourhood or community (and perhaps the ability to pay) but it’s within a penny or two all the way through to Hope and up the Fraser Canyon.

It’s like all of the gas station owners talk to each other and determine they will all charge the same amount.

They would deny that, of course, because they are not supposed to be setting their prices that way.

However, it happens in every community along Highway 97 and down Highway 1 from Cache Creek, and with more than one gas outlet – everyone charges the same price for a litre of gasoline.

That way everyone gets the biggest bang for their buck – the station operators, the dealers, the gas companies and, of course, the government.

Who gets hammered?

Why us meek, little, polite consumers – you know, us “whatchya going to do-ers?”

When you look at the gas station signs coming up to Quesnel from the Lower Mainland, it’s like getting slapped in the face when everyone of them is cheaper than the $1.25.9 we’re getting hit with here.

Oh well, we did have a short-lived price war here.

How short-lived?

Short enough that most folks probably missed the 18-hour Battle of the Pumps.

It was amazing.

Area gas stations were running at $114.9 per litre, which had quickly soared in lock step from $108.9.

Bad enough, but then someone had to get greedy and jacked the price up to $125.9.

What happened? Was there a war in the Middle East? Was there a shortage across the country? Did a refinery go down?

Nope, none of the above.

One owner bumped his prices, but the next door neighbour didn’t get the memo.

However, he did get the customers while the more expensive neighbour got no business.

But they must have talked, because the next day around noon, the cheaper dude upped his price.

Welcome to the land of being charged what the market will bear.What we need is a break.

Ken Alexander

Quesnel Cariboo Observer