The sad pleasure of stopping at a motorway service station – and how to avoid paying £2 a liter


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I derive sad pleasure from parking at a highway gas station, stretching old legs, using the facilities, and then continuing to ride without spending a bean.

This behavior is not yet at the origin of the revolution, but it feels good; well, to me. Especially when fuel prices get so ridiculous.

I’ve often wondered who could be fooled by a Scotch egg, a box of shortbread, or a tree-shaped air freshener at prices so high they were almost vertical.

Fuel prices are displayed at a BP Garage at Washington Services on the A1 near Tyne and Wear. Picture date: Tuesday June 7, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TRANSPORT Fuel. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

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However, with fuel it is different. If you need it and there is only a motorway service station, you will pay.

Oil companies do not set oil prices or fuel taxes. They also cannot control world events that drive up their costs. But that still doesn’t explain the price gap between adjacent firms selling the same product.

So why is anyone paying more than £2 a litre? Most gasoline and diesel cars will go 400 to 500 miles on the open road, which would take you from Berwick in Brighton without stopping.

It’s not difficult. Buying fuel at local gas stations like this, rather than on the highway, saves money.

Few trips made on this island require more than a tank. A few do, but even a drive from John O’Groats to Lands End can avoid exorbitant motorway service prices by going to Lancaster, which is halfway there.

My advice is simple. I recently drove in London, parking at Stanmore which is the last stop on the Jubilee line. I filled it up at home and did the same at Stanmore, saving quite a bit of fuel.

My only highway gas station stops were for the aforementioned free ablutions.

It’s a simple thing, so why don’t so many people profit by doing the same. Why do they knowingly part with money they don’t need?

Think about where you are buying from. This will not bring radical and immediate change. But it’s a start – and a message.

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