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Lincoln Daily News
601 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL 62656
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To the editor:
I feel a need to "set the public record straight,"
in response to the Saturday, March 25, 2006, publication of The
The Courier has chosen a policy of listing the local gas prices
on their editorial page, and as they have stated when announcing the
policy, "Let the facts speak for themselves."
Well, why is it that in a town with only 10 gas stations that can
be visited by anyone in less than 15 minutes, they can't "get the
Per The Courier:
|Gas prices Friday in Lincoln:
|Lowest price in Illinois: Troy
"The facts" are that on Friday and for as long as the Lincoln gas
prices have been $2.419, one station on North Kickapoo has been
posting a price of $2.399. Per The Courier's information, this
matches the lowest price in Illinois. Now why wouldn't The Courier
report that piece of information? Here we have a gas station
matching the lowest price in the entire state, and they didn't deem
it worth a mention. If the local operators are pricing above anyone
else in the entire state, they deem it newsworthy. Their very
omission of this information was an editorial distortion of the
data. Perhaps The Courier owes this business an apology for their
inept reporting in not noting this?
I would like to refer the readers to a link to a document
prepared by Oil Price Information Services, which is one of the most
highly respected purveyors of petroleum information in the country.
They prepared a report on the average retail margins for the best
and the worst markets in the entire country for Jan. 1, 2006-March
The information they provide will challenge everything you have
ever thought you knew about the retail marketing of gasoline. Your
local newspaper chooses to write editorial after editorial
castigating the evils of the local gas station operators and doesn't
even make the slightest effort to obtain any facts to educate the
readers or to provide information to you.
marginmadness.asp to see the best and worst market tournament
charts according to retail data in this year's OPIS Brand Power
Ranking Report, a special section of OPIS' "Pandemonium at the Pump"
[to top of second column in this letter]
OPIS lists the 24 worst retail markets in the entire country. You
will be surprised to know that of the worst 24 retail markets in the
entire country, five are right here in central Illinois. Peoria-Pekin,
Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and Springfield (five
central Illinois markets that all affect Lincoln, and you will note
on the survey date in question, on average, Lincoln was lower than
all but one) are specifically listed among the 24 worst retail
margin markets. Of the eight worst markets, the average retail
margin was less than 1 cent per gallon. Now before you get the wrong
impression, you need to understand that "margin" is the difference
between cost (defined as gasoline product plus taxes) and selling
price. This is NOT to be mistaken for PROFIT, which is a dirty word
for many in the media. The operators must deduct all operating
expenses from the "margin." The truth is that gasoline has turned
into a "loss leader" for retailers.
Soooo... to The Courier, let's stop casting the local gas station
operators as villains and understand they are caught up in the
scrambled world of commodities trading, big oil consolidations, fat
refining margins and just trying to operate their business as best
they can in a super-competitive environment, which in this day and
age is becoming very difficult to do, just like many, many other
I appreciate the Lincoln Daily News for providing the
opportunity to provide readers "the facts."
In my opinion the local news sources have the responsibility to
professionally report the facts and respect local business people
who support this community.
Saturday's The Courier had 16 pages for 50 cents, or .03125 cents
per page. The Peoria Journal Star had 60 pages for $1, or .01667
cents per page. The Courier was 187 percent higher then the Peoria
Journal Star. "The facts" would appear to indicate price gouging,
but who am I to judge.
I need to inform readers of an old newspaper adage that "news is
only news when it is news." As it relates to this letter, I am sure
you all know that retail prices make frequent changes up and down,
so any observations and comments about current retail prices are
only valid for the time when they were observed and not the time you
may read an article.
Thanks for reading and considering alternatives to what you may
think you already know.
Name withheld by request
(Posted March 29, 2006)
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