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March 14, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Caledon Citizen

Vol. 7, No. 2

Wednesday, March 16, 1983

History Making Lows…

The Great Gas War

It was something every motorist dreams of but never expects to see.

Gas wars, which ultimately resulted in regular gas selling for less than a cent a litre hit Highway 10 this weekend for forty miles – and may not be over.

Drivers lined up for miles Saturday at each station which accepted the challenge of the self-styled “new kid in town” – Cargo self-serve in Victoria which began he one day price skirmish.

Pumps which opened at 41.9 cents a litre Saturday morning dropped prices in the afternoon to 27.9 and from 27.9 to 11.5 and finally to one cent or below. Below 29.6 cents a litre, the cost was not covering federal, provincial and road taxes.

Most pumps were sold out of regular that evening.

Station owners are not sure if the drastic undercutting between stations along the highway strip has stopped – or only paused while managers and companies assess the consequences.

Cargo sales manager Stuart Seymour has stated that their gas bar will continue to sell gas two-tenths below its competition. 

Victorial Gas Bar opened Saturday at 32.7 cents a litre for regular gas and Mike’s Texaco at 32.9 cents. The chain reaction of price cuts accelerated around 11:30 a.m. and by 4 p.m., Mike’s Texaco was down one-tenth of a cent per litre. They went back up to one cent at 5:30 but over at Cargo the price stayed at under a cent until the pumps ran dry at 1 a.m., Sunday morning.

Stone’s Sunco, just south of Orangeville, did not go down to match the competition; they were too busy filling the cars lined up to buy gas at 22.5 cents a litre regular.

“We heard Victoria was going down so we checked the prices early in the afternoon and matched it, explained May stone. “There was no chance to change after that. We were too busy and figured if that was good enough, we’d stick to that price.”

She added the confusion had resulted in one lost child and fender-bender.

“The family had brought two cars to fill-up and each thought the other had the child when they left. Then there was an argument in line that resulted in hood damage and the OPP had to be called – it was a crazy day.

Despite confusion, Don Fordman thought it was the best weekend he can remember in a long time.

“We’re thinking of it as a way of showing our appreciation to our customers. We enjoyed ourselves,” he said. “The public were the gainers and good luck to them. With high unemployment, high interest rates and rising food costs, they deserve it.”

“This weekend, Christmas was on us.”

And the lengthy line-ups showered there was a lot of interested customers.

The motorists were definitely the winners of Saturday’s battle as Texaco and Cargo, along with Caledon Datsun, One-O-Car and Truct Shop, Stone’s Sunoco and Fordham’s Ultramar all drastically cut their prices.

Each of the two Victoria stations pumped 16,000 gallons of gas into waiting vehicles and the lines got up to a four-hour wait at one point in the evening.

A number of motorists were commuting north to cottages or on the way back to the city. Some also made special trips from as far away as Hamilton. Ed Pacan, owner of Brampton Hut Grocery, who leases the gas bar property to Cargo said that one man came from Hamilton with 12 cans in his station wagon. Another one event missed the dance he was headed to, to brace the four-hour line up. 

Some farmers brought 500-gallon tanks on the back of trucks, but at Cargo they stopped filling these around 6 p.m. because of the line-ups.

The Snelgrove detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police monitored the situation at all of the stations, and no reports were lodged at any site.

With at least one station out of gasoline until Monday, prices along the Highway 10 strip rose Sunday to 39.9 cents a litre for regular gas. Monday saw the Cargo station raise the price further, up to 44.5.

None of the station managers will know how much their loses will be until they speak to their respective oil companies.

Mike Soucier, owner of Mike’s Texaco said he joined in the battle on his own.

“Texaco has nothing to do with it. He (Cargo) wants to be two-tenths of a litre under me and I don’t want him to be. I’m very competitive and I won’t allow anyone to undersell me.”

The losses, he said, are “one of those things. What can I say if that’s what he wants we’ll both go out of business.”

At One-O-Car and Truck stop they had no intention of starting a gas war. Owner Dan Dimoff said, “We just want to match him (Cargo). The highway has has been stable for a long time and he doesn’t deserve an edge.”

He said Ultramar has helped in the past “but they can only go so far. I will have to pay for the tax which will be eight to nine cents a litre.”

Mr. Seymour argues that Cargo deserves the two-point edge on major gas companies. “We’re not a major company, we’re a jobber; we don’t have a major company image or even a refinery. The major companies have mass advertising, credit cards and they give away glassess along with other gimicks. The major gas companies have established a price that they will sell at and we will be two-tenths of a cent less with full service.”

Don Fordham of Fordham’s Ultramar just north of Orangeville though the present situation was very delicate and that “it’s not over yet.”

“Everybody lost a great deal of money over the weekend and I don’t know if it will happen again,” Mr. Fordham said. “I am adamant that I will not be undercut. Our policy is to compete and we have. If it goes down again; we will.”

He explained that, as price to the pump was set by the gas companies the stations depended on volumne to make a living. 



         

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