Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I don't like Ike, I like Walmart even less

While most of us knew that Ike would have an impact on the price of fuel at the pump, I believe most of us know there is a delay in that correlation. A delay of about 7 hours is a little short, but that is the time it took.

Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast at 2:10 AM local time on Saturday the 13th. Ike hit the Keyser Walmart 7 hours later. I pulled in to fuel up my truck and when I tried to turn on the pump it would not come on. There were a fair amount of people standing at the pumps and none would come on. As us customers began to talk with each other, and the information was the power was off and they were resetting it.

When the pumps came back on it was apparent that Hurricane Ike had struck Walmart, because when the pumps came back on fuel was $0.30 higher that when I had pulled in the station. No delivery truck had delivered any knew fuel. Even if the fuel had been piped from the Gulf Coast it takes about 4 days to arrive to eastcoast terminals (yes there is a gasoline pipleline that runs from the Gulf Coast to New Jeresy).

That Walmart gas station probably has 8000 gallon tanks in the ground and 3 grades of gasoline. Assuming they were half full at the time that means they raised the price on 12,000 gallons of fuel by $0.30. That makes an extra $3,600 profit for Walmart off a Hurricane that never hit the Keyser Walmart. That is wrong it is price gouging.

Some people would blame unchecked capitalism, but they would be wrong. We are Walmart customers and I doubt any of us like what they did. We are fully aware they were taking advantage of the situation and their customers. Capitalism has the answer, we simply take our business elsewhere. There are plenty of other service stations in the area and we should reward those that have the lowest price on fuel.

If you use the gas price checker on this page you will find by not shopping for fuel at Walmart you will usually save money. Dale's Pit Stop north of McCoole is usually the low cost leader and that is how you use capitalism to your fuel advantage.

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