I got another e-mail today exhorting me to boycott some gas station (Esso and Shell, there seems to be some weird correlation between people who forward chain mail and don’t like Esso or Shell). This one was a bit different in that the boycott was to last more than day, in fact I was supposed to boycott Esso and Shell or the rest of the year!!!
Good idea, but won’t work for the same reason the “don’t buy gas for a day” doesn’t work: we’re still buying gas! The demand stays the same, we’re just shifting our supplier.
Boycotting your local Esso or Shell station just puts one neighbour (who owns the Esso station) against the other neighbour (who owns the Petro-Can/Ultramar/Sonic/etc. station). Both of whom probably buy their gas from the same refinery and have it delivered by the same transport company.
And the effect is even more perverse in Quebec: As demand at your local non-Esso/Shell station rises so must his prices – especially at the start when he didn’t plan for all the Esso/Shell customers to come to his station (increased demand = increased price). Now you would think the Esso/Shell station would lower their prices since their demand is down, but Quebec has a minimum price law to prevent gas wars from bankrupting the independent retailers. As the other guy’s prices rise the Esso/Shell station’s minimum price rises too!!!
There’s only one thing that determines the price of gas at the pumps: consumer demand. That’s it. Don’t blame OPEC, don’t blame Esso, don’t blame Shell, don’t blame the government. BLAME YOURSELF!
If people didn’t want it they wouldn’t sell it. If people didn’t want to pay enough to cover the cost, they’d find a way to lower their costs and then sell it. But if people are so addicted to driving, and flying, and buying groceries or goods that need to be transported long-distances, etc. then we’ll pay $1.50/l of gas and $3 for a watermelon and $500 to fly one-way to Toronto. And the gas companies will make money because what we get from gas is valuable to us!
Yes, I drive to work. Because public transit adds 1 hr to my commute each way and it’s worth more to spend those 2 hrs a day with my family than the cost of the gas.
And finally, our local stations are BOTH Ultramar – long live free-market competition (ummm, wait a minute).