Sunday, June 24, 2012

27 cents a gallon to cross the bridge?

The opening of Market Basket in Bourne at the Sagamore Bridge brings a smile to my face. Competition is good.

While people drive in circles looking for a parking spot at Market Basket, there are plenty of open spaces at Stop & Shop. Of course there is the attraction of a brand new store that always draws a crowd, but the pricing differential between the two chains is well known by those who frequent the Market Basket in New Bedford and other towns.

This disparity in pricing has been even more exaggerated in the Towns of Bourne and Sandwich, where Stop & Shop has enjoyed a veritable monopoly since they scarfed up the old Grand Unions on Clay Pond Road, closing it, and Quaker Meetinghouse Road, refurbishing it.

The gig's up. Now is the time for all good competitors to come to the aid of their customers.

On a similar note, there is a magical price increase for gasoline and diesel when crossing the bridges onto Cape Cod. I drive a diesel car to the Statehouse and last Thursday I noticed a sign at the Irving station at Route 6A and the Connector Road in Sagamore advertising diesel at $3.919/gallon.

I crossed the bridge and stopped at the Sorenti Brothers Shell station, where the price was $3.649/gallon, a 27-cent difference. Filling a 20-gallon tank would generate a difference equal to buying lunch at the new McDonald's next to the Sorenti station.

Though I don't think that 27-cents per gallon, a 7% difference, is tantamount to price gouging, I do think that we can discourage is kind of profiteering by driving past the more expensive station until they get the message.

As a consumer, you can put yourself in the driver's seat by driving by noncompetitive businesses of all types.

Next step: How to get the attention of monopoly, regulated utilities...

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