Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Big Oil is Fairer Than Big Banks

Today I'm going to talk about something that's not really annoying, but just plain silly. I'm inspired to do so because I've noticed that the local Esso station has decided to stop the insanity and post a gas price of $1.12. What's so special about that you say?

Why is it that gas prices are posted to the tenth of a cent as in $1.11.9. I can think of nothing else that is priced to the tenth of cent. Why gasoline? It's craziness. On a 50 litre tank of gas the difference between paying $1.11.9 and $1.12 is five cents. I guess five cents a tank can add up. And you thought the gas companies were trying to rip us off.

At the same time that gas prices are posted in giant signs outside the stations in what is at least fair to the customer, the banks are being weasels by hiding the price of using their ATM's and THIS is annoying. Why is it that the service charge for using an ATM isn't posted on the machine or given right at the start of using the machine? Nope, they have you go through all the steps of taking out money, and then at the very end ask you if the $2.00 or $2.50 or whatever charge is okay with you? How annoying and slimy is that.

And is it just me or is the price of using ATM's going up. No, not all ATM's, but more and more ATM's are going for the $3 charge. The ultimate weasel and price increase move is being perpetrated by an ATM I visited in Safeco field in Seattle, home of the Mariners. It didn't even tell you what the service charge would be, it just had a sign on the machine telling you that you had to accept a service charge if you used the machine. It was a mystery service charge. It didn't even show on the receipt. When I checked my bank records it turned out to be $5. Yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn't be using an ATM in such a place, but I tried it out to find out just how low the ATM business can get. And it can get pretty low.


  1. It;s a service, the ATM. Nothing is free. Rounding off the gas prices makes sense? Weirdest thing this summer, gas 92c in Medicine Hat, came back to Victoria where it was $1.12. Even with transit taxes you gotta wonder? xelA.

  2. Yes it is a service and I don't mind paying for it, but I do like to know how much a service is going to cost me up front. When you go for your massages I'm sure you know what the price is. You don't disrobe and lie down on the table and then and only then does the massage thereapist say, "Now this service will cost you $175, do you accept this charge."

    As I said in the blog, you don't know the service charge on an ATM until after you've gone through almost all the steps in a transaction. The acceptance of the fee should be the very first screen or even better it should be posted on the machine. I think it is common practice to tell you the price of something up front, why should an ATM be any different.

  3. You're paying $175 for a massage? You gotta stop using the back pages of Monday magazine as your primary source, man.

  4. Backing up to your gas station comment, I've always had a beef with the wholesale pricing format ... I mean, I'm not trading barrels of it on the market or anything.

    I normally go to Esso and use my SpeedPass, but once had to go to Shell and pre-pay with my credit card. I am on a motorbike and my tank was empty, so I asked for "17 Litres, please." They said they'd need to know how much gas I want in dollars. I asked what's the price ... and told them to multiple the price and 17. They had to look around for a calculator. The total price (at $1.129/l)would have been $19.193. "Then that is what I want to pay then", I said. Sheesh.