22 June 2006

What's The Point In That For?

Earlier this year I was returning back to Scotland, a short distance away from the border and I noticed the Shell petrol station has a very respectable 88.9p a litre. If you were travelling in the opposite direction however, i.e. you had the cheek to leave Scotland and go into England, then have to pay an incredible 10 pence per litre at the BP station. I'd risk it and run across the four motorway lanes with a big bucket! It's punishment enough having to leave Scotland in the first place...

The other petrol related issue that drives me crazy is the misuse of the period. The decimal place on a garage forecourt is for when they made “marginal” increases in petrol price - namely a half penny increase. It is categorically not for a cheap marketing trick so you can set all your pros at XX.9p. It's rather fortunate however that this custom will soon end when the average price of petrol finally breaks the one pound mark. Of course, when that happens the government will be getting an incredible 80 pence of pure duty! Most garages in Kos had the price as 111 cents per litre although some multinationals, notably BP, managed to get thinner numbers to do 108.9 – swines. They all could save them a lot of time, effort and staffing costs if they just put an odometer style gauge at the front of the forecourt so that the price of the petrol rose continually as a result of the company's stock price rising (yes, it's that way around).

If you want to beat the system you could do a lot worse than logging on to PetrolPrices.com to do a weekly search to find the nearest garage to you that is selling it a the lowest price locally. My local Shell is currently selling it for 91.9p per litre, a good deal down from the local average of 94.3p. Obviously though you only want to go to the cheapest station if you are passing near it, otherwise you'll destroy any saving you'd make.