When not only the prices climbed

When not only the prices climbed

Cindy dotschel 1.47 euros for a liter of super. The number shines in white digits on the price pole of the gas station. The car is already running on reserve. It is not possible to delay refueling for another day. So the car is filled up to the half, maybe the fuel prices will go down again tomorrow.

With the ladder on the price pole

A situation that almost every car driver has experienced in this or a similar way. No one has any understanding for the seemingly arbitrary fluctuating prices. But who decides how much the fuel costs? And why is diesel always cheaper than gasoline??

"The prices are dictated by the mineral oil companies, such as shell and BP", female gas station operator stefan holzmann. Everything is fully automatic. "As a child, i had to climb a ladder every few weeks to change the numbers with the turning screw." Back then, when prices changed only every four weeks, this was not an issue. In the 80’s there was then a change per week, in the 90’s the fuel price already varied from day to day. "Since 2000 or 2005 the fuel price goes up and down several times a day."

Impact on sales

While holzmann as a child needed a ladder to adjust prices, a few years later austrian electronics came into play. "We had an aluminum rod with a kind of plastic tongs that you could slide under the number and then flip it over.", recalls the 47-year-old. Today, everything works with LED lamps, which are much faster and also consume much less electricity. "Earlier, the whole box was lit with neon tubes."

Holzmann can tell whether the price per liter is high or low by the turnover: "prices are lowest between 12 and 1 p.M. And between 5 and 6 p.M., and it’s hard to get away from the cash register. In between, there are times when nothing happens at all." The most expensive price holzmann can remember was 1.78 euro for a liter of super plus. In the meantime, two or three years have passed since then. "Extreme price fluctuations have only been around for three or four years", reports holzmann. 25 cents was the roughest price fluctuation he witnessed.

Price change request

The market leader has an explanation for the fact that diesel is always cheaper than gasoline: "diesel was originally only intended as a fuel for trucks, which are important for transport in germany and europe. The changes will then be implemented in the automotive industry." In the 80s, the belief that the diesel engine was particularly low in pollutants was widespread. It wasn’t until the 1990s that people realized that diesel was bad for the environment.

Rudolf engelhardt, who runs a gas station in mitwitz, is indifferent to the number on the price column for diesel and gasoline. "We no longer have anything to do with prices", engelhardt reports. Sometimes he doesn’t even know how much gasoline costs at the moment. "The prices are changed about 20 times a day, everything is done fully automatically by computer." The changes will then be added to the coffers, the dispensers and the price pole. "When someone calls me and asks me about the prices, I look, otherwise I’m not really interested."

In the past, engelhardt had to submit an application for each price change. "They constantly checked the computer to see how much gasoline cost at the other stations and compared the prices, he remembers.