Nov 242008

With gas prices reaching three-year lows and all of Rover’s major operations taken care of (transmission, heater core, electrical system, etc), as well as the lowered costs of getting sr22 insurance quotes without your vehicle, I’ve got a little extra cash to invest in the optional repairs Rover could use. For example, when I bought Rover (he’s our beloved 1989 Ford Bronco in case you’re new here) the price was a little higher than necessary because he came with factory installed air conditioning, there was no need to call the A/C repair company. Of course, more than 20 years later and the air conditioning compressor has gone the way of the dodo.  So, I went shopping for a Ford ac compressor online and was my first stop.  It’s a great site with a wonderful selection that’s easy to navigate, though the prices weren’t so hot.  Still, it’s nice to know there’s one place that will always have the parts Rover needs in stock.

Nov 212008
Part of the Friday Frugality Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Earlier this week I wrote (on one of my other blogs) about Safeway’s PowerPump Gas Rewards program and how you can use it to save a ton of money on gas. I know not everyone has a Safeway (or Safeway gas) in their area, which is why I wrote the article on my local blog. However, I have since learned that Krogers (and possibly other members of the Safeway corporate “family”) have similar promotions in place. Now, that’s not enough to retread the entire program here on Philaahzophy so if you want the basics visit the link above.

Through the end of the year Safeway is offering even more gas rewards when you do something you’re likely to do this time of year anyway: buy gift cards. Not only do gift cards (with a few notable exceptions like pre-paid credit cards, Safeway cards, and event tickets) now count towards your accumulated spending for the purposes of gas discounts (they didn’t under the old system), but through either Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve (I’ve seen both on promotional materials) you’ll receive an extra $0.10 per gallon discount every time you accumulate $100 in gift card purchases.

Since the PowerPump gas discounts are now cumulative this means that one can actually receive a free tank of gas relatively easily. For example, my household spends about $150/week on our standard groceries, we also pick up one or two prescriptions a month from the Safeway pharmacy (each of which earns a bonus credit), and now I’m buying gift cards there as well and getting bonus rewards for every $100 spent.  Combine all of that with dropping gas prices and free gas is no longer a pipe dream.

Not only are gift cards a perfectly acceptable gift in the modern age, but I actually purchase them for stores and restaurants I regularly patronize as well, thus earning Safeway gas rewards when I eat at Chili’s, McDonalds, Jack in the Box or Subway and even when I shop at Home Depot, Target and my favorite “store” of all: eBay.  One word of warning, however…

When I purchased $90 of gift cards on Tuesday (and nothing else on the transaction) I swiped my card through the machine, but was not credited for the purchase.  After talking to store management I was told they couldn’t access the Safeway Club Card account so I would need to call the toll-free number (1-977-723-3929) and address the issue with them.  I dutifully spent my time and energy doing that and was assured my account would be updated in 24 hours.  Alas, after today’s shopping trip no credit had occured and I had to call again this afternoon.  Again, I have been assured that the credit would appear within 24 hours, but we shall see…

Part of the Friday Frugality Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Dec 102007

Dual confession time:

  1. I have no idea if I used “whom” correctly in the title. It sounds better to me, but if you know the rules for “whom”, please comment and let me know for future reference.
  2. Despite understanding anarchy innately at a young age I spent many, many years in liberal circles and was often swayed by their views.

It’s the second confession that’s the most salient to this post. One of the things one most hears from liberals in their daily conversations (and one of the most frequent arguments against anarchy) is that the government somehow holds corporations and business back from screwing the little guy. The theory is that businesses don’t care at all about their customers and simply want to leech every last penny from our overburdened wallets. Of course, this is a complete fallacy that I’ve addressed here in the past, but this weekend provided an amazing example of the flip side…

From the Associated Press via Yahoo! News

An employee closing Trig’s Minocqua Shell for the night mistakenly entered the price of a gallon of gasoline as 32.9 cents instead of $3.299 on Monday night.

He left about 10 p.m., but drivers could still use their credit cards to buy gas.

Word of the bargain spread fast in the rural northern Wisconsin community, with 42 people buying 586 gallons of gas in an hour and 45 minutes. One person had pumped 27 gallons and two purchased 18 gallons.

Local police saw the horde at the station and called store manager Andrea Reuland, who went to the station and pushed the emergency stop.

“There were cars two deep at each of my pumps,” said Reuland, who knew many of the drivers and told them they were being dishonest — the main store sign had the correct price.

“I was very upset that there’s that many dishonest people,” she said. “They knew there was a problem, and they took advantage of an employee’s mistake and I think that’s terrible.”

This is exactly the kind of story the blogosphere loves and posts about 33 cent gas have been springing up all over the place. The problem is that most of the posts (and most of the comments) seem to be taking the side of the thieves. Yes, I called them thieves. People are cheering for the people who gleefully paid only $0.33/gallon for their gas and booing the police and station manager who put an end to the “jackpot”.

Of course, this mentality is a result of the disgust people have with the ever-increasing gas prices here in America, but, as usual, they’re aiming at the wrong targets. The average gas station only earns one or two cents per gallon of gas. It’s not the station owners who set the prices, but the oil companies themselves. This station owner has been robbed of more than $1700 in gas. Yes, I’m aware that there are laws on the books stating that businesses must honor the “shelf price” of a product, but if you think the law is the be-all end-all of right and wrong then you’re either new here or just visit to look for arguments. The only reason there was such a rush at the station was because people were telling friends, family and strangers about the “bargain price” and they knew it was a mistake. As is most often the case, the consumers were just looking out for themselves and were happily screwing over a gas station that had served their community for years. So I ask: who’s screwing whom?

Oh yeah… and kudos to the police officer who was apparently the only moral person in the area that evening for calling the station manager to end the theft!