Don't buy gas from Alpedrinha (or why not to charge foreigners extra)

in LeoFinancelast month (edited)

A few days ago I bought my first ever bottle of Rubis butane gas from a small gas station just a few metres down the hill on the N18 from the main junction with the MI079.

I thought it was a handy location to get gas as it's only about a 5 minute drive from where I'm now living.

They charged my a total of just over 50 EU -

  • 20 EU for the deposit
  • 31 EU for the gas

I remember because the woman wrote it down for me, given my rather poor grasp of Portuguese.

I didn't think too much of it at the time, I was just pleased to have gotten the gas bottle I needed on the same day as I'd bought my new portable gas heater - it was a bit of a last minute decision just before heading home, and it seemed like a reasonable price, about what I was expecting.

So imagine my surprise today when I bought exactly the same variety and weight of gas bottle (a spare as one's bound to go empty at night at some point!) today from a different shop in the neighbouring town of Val de Prazares for around 40 EU:

  • 15 EU deposit
  • 25 EU for the gas.

20201021_175626.jpg

Err hang on a minute!?!? I don't remember seeing any news about a rapid period of hyper deflation in the last few days.

Alas, deflationary economics isn't one of the topics covered in the Portuguese basics section of Duolingo, so being unable to enquire about this at the shop, I just took my gas bottle, and beer and lilac scented bin bags (that's all they had) and my unexpected change and drove home.

Turns out there wasn't any macro reason for the price difference, so the gas station in Alpredinha simply charged a 20% premium compared to the cute little local shop in Val de P!

That's a hell of a premium to be charging when the towns are only 10 minutes apart on a pretty decent B (or 'M' here in Portugal) road.

There's no delivery cost reasons for that price difference, so maybe it's convenience? The first shop is on the main A (or 'N' here in Portugal) road to Fundao, the main town around here.

Screenshot 20201021 at 18.31.29.png
Alpredinha on the left, Val de P on the right, I live half way between the two.

Or did they charge me a stupid foreigner tax the first time? I relied on Google translate and very patchy Portuguese for the first purchase, for the second I'd learned how to verbally mangle 'Bom dia, Eu preciso uma nova garaffe de gas' which seemed to go down pretty well and got understood.

But whatever the reasons for that 20% premium, how stupid are the people in that first shop?

Isn't it fairly obvious that if a foreigner they've never seen before rocks up in a newish looking car looking to a brand new bottle of gas and waving around a wedge of EUROs like it's monopoly money (which it still kind of feels like, no Queen's head, WTF?!?) - then it's a REASONABLE BET they'll be staying in the local area for a while.

So why charge them an over the odds deposit? That at least had to be a 'foreigner tax'? When that foreigner can simply ask around or go buy a second bottle from the next shop along and find out it's 20% cheaper (and get a much friendlier reception!)

As if I'm ever going to go back to that first shop now. No way. I'll even take the 5 EU hit on the deposit by returning their bottle to the second shop.

And to top it all, that first shop sold diesel, and I'm in need of nearly a full tank, and they're now not getting that custom either, I'll buy that elsewhere, I've already been on Google maps to locate another gas station.

This is one foreigner's income that first shop won't be seeing any more of.

Jesus (or 'Jesus!' here in Portugal), for the sake of a quick 10 EU, they've probably lost at least 100, maybe more than that if I settle around here, now I'll be warning everyone away from it.

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Well if they return the deposit after you return the tank then the first option is actually cheaper with gas at 21 eu.

Even if the deposit is a sunk cost you may still come out ahead if the first place gas stays cheaper than other alternatives.

Ahh, typo - I got them the wrong way round!

Will correct, thanks!

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I totally hate it when people think they can charge a foreigner tax like that and it sure happens a lot when you travel abroad as a German with sketchy English.
I basically never write reviews in Google, but I make an exception for shops like that...

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Now that's an interesting idea!

I might wait and see and ask around. If I find other people have had similar experiences, it might be worth a warning review!

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Better, indeed, first ask round. Small villages/towns like that can be rather tight and negative reviews may backfire. You intend to live there for a while, don't you.

Oh don't worry, I've had my fair share of foreigner rip-offs. I now pretty much know local trade laws better than most shop operators.

Yes fair point, I probably won't have the time to do a review anyway!

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Do the bottles have different colors? Or logos? We have two different systems in Germany: One, where you buy the bottle and one, where you pay a deposit (that are those with a company logo). The deposit bottles you often can only exchange at stations belonging to this chain, the other bottles you can exchange at a lot of places.

image.pngDifference: If you don't need them anymore, you can give the deposit bottle back to get the deposit. No giving back of the other bottles.

I'm fairly sure it's the same system all around here!

But that would explain the difference!