1721: "Business Idea"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3103
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby orthogon » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:05 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
ThemePark wrote:Not just the UK. I tried looking up a Danish brand of bottled water. If you buy a .5L bottle, it's £2/L. If you buy a 1L bottle, it's £1/L.

Not being a frequent buyer of water myself, I had checked a random merchendiser and discovered that (with the exception of 'flavoured waters') even the most expensive brand was no more than £1/l. In fact 86p/l for a multibuy pack of low-volume bottles from a major brand seems to be the most expensive, and it was mostly much cheaper, the (outlier) lowest price being nine pence per litre...


It's all about economics. If you're out and about and need to buy a bottle of water from a newsagents, it's going to be the best part of £1 for a half litre bottle. In touristy locations or places like airports where there's a captive market, it could be up to £2. You can of course buy it more cheaply in bulk and from a supermarket, but you could be several km away from such a place. And if you're at home, ordering online, you have a tap producing drinking water in the next room so the price has to be lower to compete. You could argue that it's unfair to compare competitive fuel prices at petrol stations with inflated convenience store prices for water, but there's nowhere that charges £2.50/l for petrol because there's a captive market. I suppose it's because petrol tanks are big and cars can drive hundreds of miles looking for a better price.

Flumble wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:Holy shit your bottled water must be expensive. You really pay £2/L for water? On purpose?

That's still far too cheap. Bottled water should have over 9000% excise tax in countries where everyone has access to drinking water.


I absolutely agree, but only on condition that drinking water taps and fountains be provided ubiquitously in public places and that businesses be required to provide water free of charge or for a nominal cost without any other purchase necessary. I hate buying bottled water and will avoid it wherever possible, but sometimes I wasn't organised enough to carry enough for the whole day.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

User avatar
Wee Red Bird
Posts: 193
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:50 am UTC
Location: In a tree

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:42 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Californian here and our gas pumps actually tell you to wait a few seconds after pumping, then push the nozzle harder into the tank before pulling it out, to activate some kind of suction mechanism to prevent just such dripping and even the escape of vapors.

That sucks. You'd lose a $0.01 every time you fill up. Not much each time, but it adds up.
And if its that 'one hose for all grades' type system, you'd be sucking a slight mix back in to the tank at the end.

User avatar
Eebster the Great
Posts: 3485
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:58 am UTC
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:45 am UTC

orthogon wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:
ThemePark wrote:Not just the UK. I tried looking up a Danish brand of bottled water. If you buy a .5L bottle, it's £2/L. If you buy a 1L bottle, it's £1/L.

Not being a frequent buyer of water myself, I had checked a random merchendiser and discovered that (with the exception of 'flavoured waters') even the most expensive brand was no more than £1/l. In fact 86p/l for a multibuy pack of low-volume bottles from a major brand seems to be the most expensive, and it was mostly much cheaper, the (outlier) lowest price being nine pence per litre...


It's all about economics. If you're out and about and need to buy a bottle of water from a newsagents, it's going to be the best part of £1 for a half litre bottle. In touristy locations or places like airports where there's a captive market, it could be up to £2. You can of course buy it more cheaply in bulk and from a supermarket, but you could be several km away from such a place. And if you're at home, ordering online, you have a tap producing drinking water in the next room so the price has to be lower to compete. You could argue that it's unfair to compare competitive fuel prices at petrol stations with inflated convenience store prices for water, but there's nowhere that charges £2.50/l for petrol because there's a captive market. I suppose it's because petrol tanks are big and cars can drive hundreds of miles looking for a better price.

Flumble wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:Holy shit your bottled water must be expensive. You really pay £2/L for water? On purpose?

That's still far too cheap. Bottled water should have over 9000% excise tax in countries where everyone has access to drinking water.


I absolutely agree, but only on condition that drinking water taps and fountains be provided ubiquitously in public places and that businesses be required to provide water free of charge or for a nominal cost without any other purchase necessary. I hate buying bottled water and will avoid it wherever possible, but sometimes I wasn't organised enough to carry enough for the whole day.

Fair enough, they do the same thing in the U.S., and I can remember paying $1.50 for 20 oz a few times at least, which is nearly the nominal equivalent. In fact, I'm sure I've spent more than that, e.g. at amusement parks.

But you never buy a pint of gas, you buy gallons of it at once, and not in little plastic bottles where the biggest costs are plastic, bottling, shipping, shelving, and marketing, so it's maybe not a great comparison.

Flumble wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:Holy shit your bottled water must be expensive. You really pay £2/L for water? On purpose?

That's still far too cheap. Bottled water should have over 9000% excise tax in countries where everyone has access to drinking water.

I typically agree, but it does depend on a lot of factors. Obviously if you're thirsty and in a place where free water isn't immediately available, you might have little choice, but besides that there are still reasons you might buy in bulk for home (though ideally in a few large containers rather than lots of little bottles). Not everywhere has plumbing that is safe to drink, and even places that do might have water that tastes like ass.

In my trip to Turkey, I was worried the tap water might not be safe. In fact, it was perfectly safe, but also perfectly chlorinated. It literally tasted like pool water, and was so bad that even making ice from it for our drinks was unacceptable. Is it any surprise everyone there drinks bottled water? The same thing happens everywhere to varying degrees. Even in my apartment in Ohio, I find the flavor to not be very good. Growing up, we had tasty (albeit very hard) water, and I didn't understand the bottled water phenomenon at all. Now I sometimes wish I had more myself.

teelo
Posts: 783
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:50 pm UTC

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby teelo » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:53 am UTC

Awww, I wanna know what the rest of the idea was!

User avatar
Soupspoon
You have done something you shouldn't. Or are about to.
Posts: 4060
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:00 pm UTC
Location: 53-1

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:15 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:It's all about economics. If you're out and about and need to buy a bottle of water from a newsagents, it's going to be the best part of £1 for a half litre bottle. [...]
Oh, naturally. But I considered where to look, in my research
Spoiler:
All the places you get (mainstream, fully legal) fuel are like the equivalent of an outlet that is a "WaterIzUs" specialist one-product outlet, likely to have gained concessions for bulk supply as part of their entire raison d'etre and business model. And while service(/petrol/gas)-stations attached to supermarkets are hyper-competative against 'mere' fuel-company branded outlets, their sales from their aisles only has the general supermarket inverse-premium to it (i.e. better than the corner store, and somewhat immune to Tourist Trap up-pricing).

On the shelves there's still room for the potential loss-leading 'bargain home-brand' such as the 9p/l slosh (for those who would buy that1) plus the 'premium' brands for showing off. And even those premium bottles (top-tip: buy the fizzy stuff, use once, refill from the tap and add a pinch of alka-seltzer, perhaps? ;)) aren't going for premium premium prices, it seems.

So whilst not upper-quartile (such as probably-tap-water-anyway non-alcoholic drinks in a low-dive high-traffic basement-disco bar, as the Management strive to fleece the revellers even if/when they're swearing off the extortionate alcohol), it probably encompasses all but the truly 'boutique' bottled stuff.



But consumerism is odd. IANAExpert. And I have taps in my house. ;)

1 Not sure who. The family off on the driving holiday, via Chunnel, cross France and into Spain where they "don't trust the water", yet have forgotten or never thought to get the camping containers filled from their home taps? A limited audience. And when tap water goes wrong, these days, the water company has learnt to get in there fairly quickly with bowsers or their own sourced supplies of bottled water, to mitigate the resulting bad press...

User avatar
Echo244
Posts: 511
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 9:49 am UTC
Location: Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping!

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Echo244 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:25 pm UTC

Pointless anecdote time, now someone's mentioned the aviation side of things...

France, somewhere, apparently had a special transaction code to use when refuelling jet aircraft. They'd load the aircraft with the specified amount of jet fuel as a normal transaction, then drain the hose out into a bucket (probably a couple of litres or so) and chuck that fuel into the AVGAS storage. This would then be recorded in their data system using that special transaction code. So yes, fuel companies are aware of the possibilities of the fuel-left-in-the-hose dilemma. And that it's easier to exploit when you have your own operatives carrying out the fuelling...
Unstoppable force of nature. That means she/her/hers.
Has committed an act of treason.

User avatar
Soupspoon
You have done something you shouldn't. Or are about to.
Posts: 4060
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:00 pm UTC
Location: 53-1

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:15 pm UTC

Inversely, as my prime reference for aviation minutiae, I was thinking more of pre-delivery hose-emptying1 in this context, they way you started that post. But it's different.

1 Search for the area of transcript around "run off a couple of litres of fuel before every trip", but really you might want to read the whole thing, for more fun, or even listen to the original if you can find an audio version within your desired budget and level of acceptable legality.

solune
Posts: 121
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:58 pm UTC

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby solune » Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:58 pm UTC

I also remember the story of someone at Air-France designing a plastic goblet lighter by a few miligrams, thus driving down the weight of the plane. I suppose the fuel economy over the whole fleet was enough to pay his salary, but it still makes me cringe for humanity that we have come to this.

User avatar
Keyman
Posts: 340
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:56 pm UTC

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Keyman » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:48 pm UTC

trpmb6 wrote:So what does this have to do with your comment? I think you underestimate power of volume. Think about oil companies (politics aside); they do operate on fairly thin margins. But because they operate in such large volume they turn massive profits. So in the context of volume, I do think there would be a fairly significant amount of cash savings by using some sort of system to capture that little bit of left over petrol/gas/diesel. Another example is the Office Space - shave a fraction of a penny off each transaction scheme. On any individual transaction it's too small to notice. But over several thousand transactions it adds up pretty quick. And I'm willing to bet that a decent gas station in a city or suburb sees a thousand to two thousand cars a day. (Granted, only a fraction of those are buying premium so you have to account for that too).

Beg to differ... Individual gas stations have small margins (hence, the expansion of 'other stuff' you can buy there). Oil companies (politics aside) actually have very large gross margins...
    Exxon Mobil Historical Gross Profit Margin (Quarterly) Data
    Data for this Date Range
    June 30, 2016 29.56%
    March 31, 2016 32.08%
    Dec. 31, 2015 29.62%
    Sept. 30, 2015 30.65%
Nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. - A. Hamilton

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5482
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:39 pm UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:That sucks. You'd lose a $0.01 every time you fill up. Not much each time, but it adds up.

Not sure how you conclude that. The system captures the stuff that would otherwise fall out of the hose on the ground / evaporate into the air, which you wouldn't be getting in the first place. You're not losing a few drops that would have otherwise ended up in your tank.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

User avatar
Eebster the Great
Posts: 3485
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:58 am UTC
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:28 pm UTC

solune wrote:I also remember the story of someone at Air-France designing a plastic goblet lighter by a few miligrams, thus driving down the weight of the plane. I suppose the fuel economy over the whole fleet was enough to pay his salary, but it still makes me cringe for humanity that we have come to this.

That sounds exaggerated. People won't worry about, say, one extra gram of weight on their planes. If they did, they would be making all kinds of other changes. One estimate online is an additional cost in fuel for a round trip of $.65 per kg per flight, so if the total difference in weight of hundreds of cups amounts to just one gram, that's 0.065 cents savings per flight after replacing hundreds of plastic cups. If replacing the cups cost $65 per plane including labor, then that would be paid off in just 100,000 flights per plane—easy! But then you have to pay this guy's salary. If that was his main contribution that year and he made $65,000 before taxes (including benefits and everything else, and even including employer taxes and other costs of employment), then in addition to the 100,000 flights per plane needed to pay off the cost of replacing cups, now we also need an additional 100,000,000 flights to pay for this employee.

The math doesn't quite work out.

User avatar
somitomi
Posts: 756
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:21 pm UTC
Location: can be found in Hungary
Contact:

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby somitomi » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:31 pm UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:In the UK, it is different hoses for the different grades of fuel.
And its mostly self service, You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.

Strangely enough, it didn't occur to me, that the same is true here before reading your comment. I might be really tired.
Flumble wrote:I thought diesel engines can handle a wider range of liquids than petrol engines. Putting leftover diesel in your petrol car doesn't sound like a good idea.

As far as I know, diesel fuel is designed to ignite on its own (due to the high pressure and temperature in the cylinder), petrol is designed to NOT do that (the octane number measures how good the particular petrol is at that). Thus, diesel in a petrol engine ignites before it should (i.e. before the ignition spark), which can damage the engine. I'm not sure what happens to a diesel engine when fueled by petrol, but I think the injection system might not be happy about it.
EDIT:
A little bit of reading reveals, that I've forgotten about something I knew: diesel isn't as volatile as petrol, and so so whatever makes the fuel-air mixture in your petrol engine won't really work. It seems that petrol in a diesel engine would combust in a irregular manner due to the high compression ratio, and damage the engine.
Image
―◯‐◯ FG Discord ◯‐◯―

User avatar
Wee Red Bird
Posts: 193
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:50 am UTC
Location: In a tree

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:18 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:That sucks. You'd lose a $0.01 every time you fill up. Not much each time, but it adds up.

Not sure how you conclude that. The system captures the stuff that would otherwise fall out of the hose on the ground / evaporate into the air, which you wouldn't be getting in the first place. You're not losing a few drops that would have otherwise ended up in your tank.


Erm...
Pfhorrest wrote:...to activate some kind of suction mechanism...

Wee Red Bird wrote:That sucks...

Ok, I'll just step over the dead joke.

But I was meaning along the lines of shaking that drip off the end in to your tank, rather than it being sucked back to the pump.
Or the fuel/air mix in your tank being sucked out meaning you'd lose more to evaporation from the fuel already in your tank.
Or that some of the fuel in that pump will be sold twice after passing the pump's meter and being sucked back in past it.
Ok, its not really worth a cent, but it was my two cents worth. And an excuse to post that poor, deceased joke.

User avatar
cellocgw
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:45 pm UTC

trpmb6 wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:I found myself calculating the volume of the hose and wondering how much you could spend on a system that drained premium gas back into the tank between fill-ups to avoid this problem. Since there could easily be half a gallon of gas in the hose and stations run on razor-thin margins, at first it seemed possible, but considering the complications involved in pulling it off, I couldn't think of any way it could reasonably done cheaply or safely, let alone both. And even if you could do it very cheaply, when the price of premium is just a few cents per gallon more than economy, it would take thousands of fill-ups at the hose for even a very cheap piece of equipment to pay for itself.

And presumably no such solution would involve the word "network" . . .


Airlines install winglets on their aircraft and realize a much thinner profit margin by doing so. But you spread that margin over a fleet of several hundred aircraft. All of which are flying several thousand miles each day.
On paper installing a winglet on a single aircraft (particularly business jets) makes no sense when you consider the costs and often the added result of repairs due to hangar rash (operators invariably run their winglets into hangars) and you find that you spent more to have that winglet on that aircraft than you will ever save in Jet A. It only makes sense when you are flying a fleet of them every day at high speeds.

So what does this have to do with your comment? I think you underestimate power of volume. Think about oil companies (politics aside); they do operate on fairly thin margins. But because they operate in such large volume they turn massive profits. So in the context of volume, I do think there would be a fairly significant amount of cash savings by using some sort of system to capture that little bit of left over petrol/gas/diesel. Another example is the Office Space - shave a fraction of a penny off each transaction scheme. On any individual transaction it's too small to notice. But over several thousand transactions it adds up pretty quick. And I'm willing to bet that a decent gas station in a city or suburb sees a thousand to two thousand cars a day. (Granted, only a fraction of those are buying premium so you have to account for that too).


Methinks you're running dangerously close to the Milo MInderbinder school of economics there.
resume
Former OTTer
Vote cellocgw for President 2020. #ScienceintheWhiteHouse http://cellocgw.wordpress.com
"The Planck length is 3.81779e-33 picas." -- keithl
" Earth weighs almost exactly π milliJupiters" -- what-if #146, note 7

User avatar
somitomi
Posts: 756
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:21 pm UTC
Location: can be found in Hungary
Contact:

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby somitomi » Sat Aug 20, 2016 8:42 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:Methinks you're running dangerously close to the Milo MInderbinder school of economics there.

Wouldn't that involve buying gas from the army and selling it back to them somehow at a lower price while still turning a profit from the whole deal?
Image
―◯‐◯ FG Discord ◯‐◯―

User avatar
trpmb6
Posts: 425
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:27 pm UTC

Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby trpmb6 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:38 pm UTC

Keyman wrote:Beg to differ... Individual gas stations have small margins (hence, the expansion of 'other stuff' you can buy there). Oil companies (politics aside) actually have very large gross margins...
    Exxon Mobil Historical Gross Profit Margin (Quarterly) Data
    Data for this Date Range
    June 30, 2016 29.56%
    March 31, 2016 32.08%
    Dec. 31, 2015 29.62%
    Sept. 30, 2015 30.65%


My mistake, I meant to say profit margins on gas production. The margins you posted are Gross profit margin which includes all petroleum products that Exxon produces. You can check the various fact checkers etc, but essentially the truth is somewhere in between my statement and your statement when it comes to gas production. I will concede that much.
(terran/protoss/zerg/fascist fuck)


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Feedfetcher and 92 guests