As a follow up to my previous post (Strange Spin on the Gas Price Reduction Story) about the negative spin placed on the gas price reductions that went into effect in Japan on April first, I found an article which gives another reason for company’s to leave the price of their gas off their signs. In a given area where gas stations of different companies keep agreements to keep prices regulated, gas stations whose mother companies refuse to reduce prices despite the tax reduction are being protected by other gas stations. The way they are protecting each other is by not publicizing any of their prices.
Personally, I think this is a dirty trick on the consumer. Drivers who assume prices have been reduced, or forget to ask the price before pumping will either have to waste time and money looking for a gas station with good prices, or swallow it and pay the March prices to the gouging gas station.
The gas stations, of course, deny forming cartels, but this is very common in Japan. People who have been here may have noticed that tv stations tend to all do commercials at the same time. This is another way that companies screw over the consumer. Say you want to flip around while your favorite show’s on a commercial break… chances are you’re going to get commercials on the other channels as well. This seems especially enforced during the breaks between shows. TV shows generally end at 10 minutes to the hour or so. The next program starts on the hour. In between is all commercials on all channels. This has recently been loosening up though as tv stations are getting a little more competitive.
If you live here, you’ll notice other industries (I’m looking at you bread makers) who all form a group and raise prices together.