Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Got Gas Gripes?

We live in suburban Rochester, New York and, along with some of the highest property taxes in the nation, we also suffer from incredibly high gas taxes and therefore, gas prices. The cheapest gas near our home is at BJ's Wholesale Club, which was 2.939 yesterday. Name brand stations in our area are at about 3.079.

The interesting thing is that in Henrietta, New York, about eight to 10 miles away, gas prices average about a dime cheaper. I needed gas this morning and decided to drive to the BJ's in Henrietta and be there when it opened at 6:30 am. Their gas signs showed $2.869, a full 7 cents cheaper. This is because of what the gasoline industry calls segmented pricing where they can charge more in areas considered more affluent because the average driver won't  (or doesn't have the time or luxury to) drive out of the way to get cheaper gas.

So I showed up at BJ's Henrietta at 6:24 am and was the first in line, feeling fairly clever. The station opened at 6:30 am. Other people pulled up behind me. And we waited. The people behind me left. I waited. Other people arrived and we waited. The station remained closed and the cones firmly in place, keeping us away from the pumps.

At 6:40 I finally gave up and went to another station a block away. I paid 2.959 but with the station's credit card, get a 5 cent a gallon discount. So it wasn't as good as $2.869 but still better than the $2.939 at the cheapest closer station.

As I drove home, I passed another station, again a block away, where gasoline (without a car wash and on credit) was $2.889. Argh.

Not only are all the gas prices continuing to creep up, nicking deeper and deeper into our wallets but then the regional segmented pricing further adds to the insult by charging us for not planning ahead so we can be within quick driving distance of the cheap gas when we need it.

And WHY are gas prices continuing to go up? Even the explosion of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico didn't affect the prices so what is behind the creeping prices? The onset of nice weather? Last year we were paying just over $2.00 a gallon.

We've also noticed that whenever we leave the greater Rochester area, gas prices even in other parts of New York state are lower. The taxes added to gas prices in our immediate county provide plenty of motivation to gas up anywhere but here.

Seriously, it makes no sense. Remember the days of 25 cent gas? I do and it wasn't that long ago. Sob.

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