Something's Wrong Here

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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
When gas was 25 cents per gallon (I remember!), a guy would come out to pump your gas, clean your windshield, check your oil, and check the air in your tires. Now, gas is $3.50 per gallon (at a minimum) and: no guy, pump your own gas, clean your own windshield, check your own tires.

What's wrong with this picture?
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
When gas was 25 cents per gallon (I remember!), a guy would come out to pump your gas, clean your windshield, check your oil, and check the air in your tires. Now, gas is $3.50 per gallon (at a minimum) and: no guy, pump your own gas, clean your own windshield, check your own tires.

What's wrong with this picture?
In the words of Scott Alexander, "cost disease."
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
A lot of it has to do with tighter margins at gas stations. Gas stations are making less profit on a gallon of gas than they did in the 1970s. That is why so many gas stations have turned to convenience items (soda and snacks) to make their profit. Shrewd gas stations turn off the receipt-at-the-pump function and make customers come into the store to get their receipt. While in the store they are more likely to buy something else.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
When gas was 25 cents per gallon (I remember!), a guy would come out to pump your gas, clean your windshield, check your oil, and check the air in your tires. Now, gas is $3.50 per gallon (at a minimum) and: no guy, pump your own gas, clean your own windshield, check your own tires.

What's wrong with this picture?

In some countries gas station workers still do the things listed. Profit margins aside, I think customer service in the U.S. has been generally lost and forgotten. Whether its the gas station, the grocery store, the airport, on and on...its amazing how poor customer service has become.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
When gas was 25 cents per gallon
25 cents a gallon in 1970 would be about $1.69 now. Lowest I remember paying in the '70s was 17.9 cents a gallon at Hess.


Now, gas is $3.50 per gallon (at a minimum)

Not in the free zone, even with the sharp jump since the election (November 9, average price per gallon here was about $1.72, about the same as 1970 adjusted for inflation.) And that's without the changes to Lead Free, and the regional blends, and the re-calibration of octane and increases in taxes.

Current prices run about $2.45 a gallon. You are paying a political premium of at least $1/gallon. Not all of that is tax, however. You pay state gas tax of just over 53 cents a gallon, I'm paying 20 cents. The federal tax and regulatory burdens are going to be the same, but the state regulatory burden is going to be much higher there.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Some of my first jobs were pumping gas. Wiped the windshield, checked the oil. Only did air in the tires upon request.
Of course if you're not of a certain age you wouldn't know that existed in past times, and so much more.
Being old enough to remember when a man held one job, the wife stayed at home, and that one job supported the wife, two kids, paid the mortgage and had one or two cars ... if you aren't of a certain age you wouldn't know the 'American Dream' existed for some ... for many folks way back when.
We respected teachers, police, even politicians. We, the USA, were the guys with the 'White Hats.' the good guys.
I don't know if the suspension of prayer in schools, and the other watershed event, the assassination of JFK, correspond to the slippery slope we've descended, but it seems like it to me.
Remembering Walter Cronkite, a man who broadcasted the news on TV was 'the most trusted man in America' ... how far down that slippery slope we've gone, and we're slipping further and further day by day ... with no end in sight.
In the current Eschatology thread Jerusalem Blade posted a PDF with great insight to this declension. Tying it to the '60s counter culture and the demonic drug use that escalated our current decline and eventual fall.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
It's market forces at work. Americans would rather pay a little less and pump their own gas. As Bill noted, margins are tight on gas. The only way a station could pay a guy to pump it for you, especially if that means you're less likely to get out of your car at all, would be if they charged more for gas. And if they charged more, few Americans would pay it. We don't value the service that much.

On a more spiritual note, part of the reason why the one-income family no longer feels doable is because we demand a more lavish lifestyle than we used to. A typical American family feels they need a second car because the kids must get to dance practice and martial arts lessons (which we also need to pay for). And of course, we all need unlimited data for our phones. And so on. There are other improvements too that might be worth the rising costs, like advances in health care. But it would be good for many of us (myself included, for sure) to examine how a simpler lifestyle might leave us with more time and money to spend on more eternal things.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
It's market forces at work. Americans would rather pay a little less and pump their own gas. As Bill noted, margins are tight on gas. The only way a station could pay a guy to pump it for you, especially if that means you're less likely to get out of your car at all, would be if they charged more for gas. And if they charged more, few Americans would pay it. We don't value the service that much.
Back then, they weren't gas stations (except for Hess), they were service stations, and they upsold service. Cars used more oil, and they could regularly sell someone a quart of oil to top up. (And if you didn't need oil, they would short stick you). Now, cars don't need oil top ups between changes unless they are 15 or 20 years old, or have been abused. (Or, maybe if it is a certain foreign brand known for lack of quality control). Check the air, and try to sell a tire. (Tire quality and longevity have greatly increased since other manufacturers had to compete with Michelin). Then there was squirting something on the transmission so it would start smoking down the road, and a buddy a few miles down US41, or US301 could sell you unneeded transmission repairs. What Yankee wanted to be stranded with their kids on the long anticipated Florida vacation.

Let's remember the good times before the interstates ruined things.

 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
My local service station has the same priced gas as the self-service across the street, but the owner still comes out and pumps your gas, takes your payment and comes back with a receipt. What he gains is our business as we bring all our cars to him for service. He knows all his customers by name, treats them well, and in return does a pretty brisk trade. He's an anomaly though--like a small town within a big town, or you could say the Israel-within-Israel of the gas station world.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Ten years from now, this conversation will go like this:

"I remember when it used to cost 49 cents per kWh to charge my car. Now, it cost $3.50! What is the world coming to?"
 

ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
Ten years from now, this conversation will go like this:

"I remember when it used to cost 49 cents per kWh to charge my car. Now, it cost $3.50! What is the world coming to?"
When I was in college gas was 89 cents a gallon. But I didn't need to buy that pricey gas, I walked to class uphill in driving snowstorms both ways. Believe me, it's true. Everyone knows. :)
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
There's no profit in selling has, as people have pointed out. Gas is just to get you into the convenience store where they hope you'll buy snacks, beer, drinks, etc.

That said, in New Jersey it's still illegal to pump your own gas, so they still have "Full Service" gas stations. Oregon also used to be entirely like that until very recently. As of 2018, cities in Oregon with fewer than 40,000 people are allowed to offer self-service gas.
 
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