In Tuesday's Reflector, we listed the gas stations with the "lowest" average prices in town. The problem is the big difference between the lowest average and the highest average was just a few cents. Yes, two cents a gallon adds up eventually but even for the best bargain hunter it takes a long time to earn significant savings.
The unfortunate truth is, until we all stop driving quite so much, start buying more fuel-efficient cars or develop energy alternatives, gas companies will continue to have us by the throats. There is seemingly no other way to fight back, because if you own and rely on a car, you must purchase gas and give your business to oil companies which are raking in record profits.
But the makings of a plan are afoot in the vast, open space that is the Internet. It likely won't stop oil companies from adding to their financial empires off the backs of the common citizen, but at least it's a start. The plan calls for a rotating boycott of each oil company in turn. One Web site urges people to be "gas pests" and avoid certain gas stations on a rotating basis. Another site calls for consumers to boycott specific stations for a three-month period.
The theory is, when you boycott one company or a small group of companies, it forces them to lower prices to draw customers back. When the prices go down, those participating in the boycott get gas only from those companies until the others take notice and eventually prices will keep going down until they reach a "reasonable level."
In order to work, such a boycott would need to be done on a large, nationwide level and people would have to stick to it for the full duration, even after those companies started dropped prices. Which means it doesn't stand much of a chance as a idea just floating in cyberspace.
A boycott might make people feel like they have some power over the gas companies, but the best tactic we can take is much simpler drive less. Whenever possible, people should use public transportation or car pool. Walk, rather than drive, a couple blocks to the store the next time you need to pick up a few things. Perhaps then the oil companies will begin to drop prices.