Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I hate the Forward button - One Day Gas Boycotts

Well it's a New Year so I'm going to start with a new rant.

I hate the forward button, I understand it's place in the evolution of email etc. but it seems that the only time I hear from certain relatives is when they're taken in by a stupid forward/chain email they got.

This time of year there seems to be a reoccurring one suggesting that people should refrain from purchasing gas on a particular day. You know the email, I'm sure you've seen it. Basically it states that if everyone refuses to buy gas on a certain date it will cost the oil/gas companies so many 10s of millions to billions of dollars.

Here's a few reasons why these forwards/chain mails are complete stupidity.

The calculations are always wrong.
1) Yes, there are ~33.3million Canadians, but guess what? NOT ALL OF THEM DRIVE. Even if we assume the entire population between 15 and 64 drives that's only ~23million. Now what happens to that ~23million if we remove say 10% for public transit, 10% for car pooling, 5% for stay at home moms, 3% for the 15-20 year olds that haven't bothered to get a license, 2% for those who work from home, and 1% for the disabled. Hmmmm that takes out about another 7 million, so now you're down to ~16million.

So we've already cut the calculation pool in half (50%).

2) They always assume everyone who drives will be filling up on the day they want to boycott.

So the calculation pool is now down to 50/7 = ~7%. I'll even be nice and say that they pick a Monday or Thursday (assuming pre or post weekend rush) and say 10%.

3) They assume that not paying at the pumps somehow translates into a loss. So on boycott day you need gas but decide not to buy it and take a bus or something, aren't you still gonna need gas the next day? THERE IS NO LOSS, you just delay them getting their money. It's not as if you stop needing gas just because you don't buy it for one day.

4) They always try to target a particular gas vendor (i.e. Petro-Canada). Which further cuts the effect by say 1/8 (there are probably 8 big gas station operators in Canada....I'm just going off the top of my head here but: Shell, Petro, Texico, McEwen, Sunoco, Esso, Mr. Gas, CT, Suny's, ok that's 9 but you get the idea. There more there are the worse it is for the calculation.)

So now our calculation pool is down to 10/8 = 1.25%

So 1.25% of ~33.3million = 416,250
Assume an average tank size of 40L, that's 16,650,000L sold. Further assume a horrible price of $1.10. So we keep some gas vendor from receiving $18,315,000 on a certain date.

According to here, Imperial oil (who owns Esso) had "record earnings of more than $3 billion".

So what's ~18.3million against 3billion? About six tenths (6/10) of a percent. (0.61% actually).

Missing that 0.61% for a whole day will definitely teach them a lesson. NOT!

For reference:
CIA World Fact Book - Canada


Barf said...

On an unrelated note, I was rummaging about for your and/or image explanation this week. I noticed that the change you suggested on was accepted on 3 December last year. Grats =)

Thorin said...

Ya I was pretty happy about that :)