We Need a Good, Old-Fashioned Gas War

There was a very funny story on the Internet today that reminded me of when I was young.

When I was about 10 years old, I went on a series of road trips with my dad who was working for a TV station in far northern California.

The station had made an airtime sale to a gas station chain and it was my dad's job to go around to all the stations — I seem to remember they were Mobil gas stations — and take a picture of the owner.

An ad would run on the air offering free beer mugs to customers who came in for a fill-up. I think gas was 18 or 19 cents a gallon then. Get a fill-up for $3 and get six beer mugs. And then a picture of the local Mobil dealer in your town would flash on the screen.

I visited every Mobil station north of San Francisco and south of the Oregon border.

So today's story was a flashback to those days because it describes what used to go on all the time.

A gas station operator in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, decided to lower the price of gas — then at $2.89 a gallon — in order to bring in some of his competitor's customers from across the street. The competitor saw what was happening and lowered his price.

All of a sudden it was a good, old-fashioned gas war. It lasted seven hours and the price of gas got down to $2.36 a gallon — down 53 cents a gallon — all because of competition for customers.

This used to be the way things were with gas stations. Somebody raised his price. The other guy lowered his price.

In the really old days they even gave stuff away if you came in to buy gas. You could get six beer mugs for a fill-up that was under $3 total. Now your fill-up is $50. You should get a couch with that or a dining room set... something big.

Am I starting to sound like Andy Rooney here? I am? OK, I'll quit.

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