Esso Air Service

July 22nd, 2007 by Potato

The 12-volt outlet (cigarette lighter) in my car has been broken ever since my brother had the stereo system installed, possibly since before it came into our family. It’s never really bothered me. While I am a little anal about monitoring the air pressure in my tires, and always carry an air compressor in the trunk, I’ve managed to keep my tires inflated through the use of other people’s 12-volt power or the free air pumps at service stations.

I don’t know how long this has been going on, but I stopped at two different Esso stations in the past week, and both had started charging 50 cents to use their air compressors. Outrageous! For now, Petro-Canada, Shell, Sunoco, and Loblaws/Supercentre gas stations still have free air compressors (though the new Shell at Hwy 7 and Woodbine hides theirs around back halfway along the car wash lane). Considering how relatively cheap an air compressor is, how long they last, and how important properly inflated tires can be for safety, I’m really surprised at that move. Providing free air is just a cost of doing business for a gas station, and not a very big one, either. While I don’t run a gas station myself, an educated guess would suggest keeping the windshield cleaning stations topped up with cleanser, paper towels, and squeegees would cost more over time than the air compressor. I find this especially disturbing and surprising since they jumped straight to a 50 cent charge, instead of starting at just a quarter, and since they jumped into the mess all on their own.

Well, looks like I won’t be buying gas from Esso any more… which is a good point that Wayfare made: how much can they possibly be making, 50 cents at a time, from the few people who actually check their tire pressures regularly? Does that at all compare to the amount of goodwill they stand to lose from cheapskates like me?

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