Columns

2007.06.20 Don't like gas costs? Don't price anything else

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

I get a kick out of the television stations that attempt to report the cheapest gas prices in the area. In a competitive market, some stations change their prices several times a day, especially those gas outlets with the new digital price signs. Those announcers think they’re doing a public service when often they are reporting outdated prices, sometimes too low, sometimes too high.

When prices can be changed at the touch of a button, it’s foolish to think that any particular price will stick around for an extended period. Anybody who thinks that a low price they heard about is still going be available when it’s convenient for them to buy is just asking to be disappointed. I have a friend in the convenience store business who told me of a woman who purchased just $3.00 worth of gas because she heard prices were much lower in Toledo.

About two hours later, she returned, complaining that prices in Toledo had gone up and she had to buy another $3.00 of gas in order to return to the same station she was at two hours (and $6.00) before. That’s a wasted evening  and poor use of money and gas anyway you look at it.

Besides, almost any type of liquid product you can buy is more expensive than gasoline. I went through a batch of recent store ads and figured out the per gallon prices of some popular products. In comparison, gasoline doesn’t look all that bad. Obviously, we all use more gallons of gas than we would of these other products, but the results are still interesting.

Most soft drinks and bottled waters fell into the $2 to $3 per gallon range, although that price skyrockets if you buy by the individual can or bottle. I found milk ranging from $2.59 for a gallon of whole milk to $3 for a gallon of 2% milk. That’s kind of like finding premium gas for 40 cents a gallon less than regular. However, if you prefer chocolate milk (or gasoline), Hershey’s syrup runs about $8.00 a gallon. Orange juice ranged from $4.50 to $5.98 a gallon.

Hunt’s Tomato Sauce was available for $4.80 per gallon, and Open Pit BBQ Sauce was $6.26 a gallon. Barilla Pasta Sauce came to $9.85 per gallon, making that spaghetti dinner a bit more expensive than you might have guessed.

Miller High Life and Busch Beer were available at $5.59 a gallon, while Budweiser and Miller Lite were each running $7.81 per gallon. Those with a taste for wine had better have their billfolds ready as prices ran from a low of $15.12 all the way up to $59.00 per gallon.

Generic mouthwash was available for $5.83 per gallon while Crest Pro-Health Rinse was a whopping $17.65 per gallon. Tide liquid laundry detergent was $6.83 per gallon and Spray ‘N Wash was $11.58 per gallon.

Roundup Weed and Grass Killer was $10.00 per gallon, or, as they like to say in the petroleum industry, $9.999. Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid came to $9.75 per gallon while Pert Shampoo led all advertised health and beauty items at $28.44 per gallon.

By far the most expensive consumer product I saw advertised was Visine, which came to over $637 a gallon, although it’s true it would take you a while to use a gallon of it. But, as a person who suffers from glaucoma and has to take several prescription eyedrops,  I consider that Visine price too good to be true.

Of the several eyedrops I’m now taking, the least expensive one comes to $2,774.59 per gallon, although a gallon would last you many years. Then there’s the most expensive drop.

This particular eyedrop costs $69.22 for a one month (2.5 ml) supply. Since I only take this one once a day in each eye, that comes to about $1.15 per drop. If it came in a gallon container, the price would be only (better sit down) $104,853.96 per gallon.

That kind of makes $3.00 for a gallon of regular gasoline look real cheap, doesn’t it? Now to be fair, that gallon of eyedrops would last me about 126 years and who knows what gasoline will cost in the year 2133. Not that I’ll be around to worry about the price of gas (or eyedrops) at that point.

Probably by then, they will have perfected bionic eyes and vehicles that run on water. And water will be $5,000 per gallon.

    – June 20, 2007 

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