1721: "Business Idea"

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1721: "Business Idea"

Postby billybobfred » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:39 am UTC

Image
Then we move to phase two. Gas stations store fuel in underground tanks. Normally, these are inaccessible except via the pump. However, with hydraulic fracturing, we-- Wait! Come back!


I'd like to note that as of this moment, #827 has inadvertently been overwritten. Looks like Randall forgot which image URLs he had already used.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby rhomboidal » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:51 am UTC

I don't ask for Premium, I ask for Extra Virgin. Lets the attendants know the quality of customer they're dealing with.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby thunk » Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:19 am UTC

The third time two comics have had the same name.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:41 am UTC

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" . . .

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby dragon96 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:46 am UTC

For a limited time, you can see the same comic in https://xkcd.com/827/ and http://xkcd.com/1721/ . :)

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:45 am UTC

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.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby orthogon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:16 am UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:In the UK, it is different hoses for the different grades of fuel.

I was going to say this. We had so much fun with the transatlantic window differences! Presumably the innards of the pump are separate for each fuel, though they might share the motor.

Even if the different grades come from the same pump, presumably there have to be separate hoses for petrol (gasoline) and diesel (whatever the heck y'all call that), given that misfuelling can brick the whole engine.

Also, the corollary is that some people pay top dollar for the premium fuel and get a hoseful of the proletarian stuff.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:12 am UTC

My car runs on LPG. It doesn't use the same nozzle as the other fuels.

But then again, when I disconnect the hose a small mist of LPG will escape from the connection itself. I paid for that. So there is some loss there.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby orthogon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:35 am UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:My car runs on LPG. It doesn't use the same nozzle as the other fuels.

But then again, when I disconnect the hose a small mist of LPG will escape from the connection itself. I paid for that. So there is some loss there.

It's what Scotch Whisky distillers call "the angels' share"
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby macraw83 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:00 am UTC

billybobfred wrote:I'd like to note that as of this moment, #827 has inadvertently been overwritten. Looks like Randall forgot which image URLs he had already used.
thunk wrote:The third time two comics have had the same name.
dragon96 wrote:For a limited time, you can see the same comic in https://xkcd.com/827/ and http://xkcd.com/1721/ . :)

Fortunately, the internet always remembers: https://web.archive.org/web/20160113175 ... cd.com/827
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:34 am 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.

Australia too. I had never thought anyone would do otherwise, so I'd thought the idea in the comic was even less sensible than it is.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:26 am UTC

Inquiring minds NEED to know: Did Randall use the true spelling, "fracturing" to avoid the negative frakking connotations associated with "fracking"?

Next question concerns alternative fuels. How many electrons remain in the cable after topping off your Model S at a Supercharger Station?
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:11 pm UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.
...before repositioning his sporran and going back to the business of refuelling the car..

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby DennyMo » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:40 pm UTC

As I read the first frame, I was bracing for an Amway sales pitch of some sort...
Wee Red Bird wrote:In the UK, it is different hoses for the different grades of fuel.

You still find a few places like that in the US, but most of them have cut corners to simplify maintenance.
Wee Red Bird wrote:And its mostly self service, You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.

You see plenty of farmers in the US doing that, too. Come to think of it, lots of them have Scottish surnames...

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby orthogon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:12 pm UTC

DennyMo wrote:As I read the first frame, I was bracing for an Amway sales pitch of some sort...
Wee Red Bird wrote:In the UK, it is different hoses for the different grades of fuel.

You still find a few places like that in the US, but most of them have cut corners to simplify maintenance.

Perhaps the much lower price of petroline in the US has something to do with it. In the UK, it's almost half as expensive per litre as (bottled) water!
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby ThemePark » Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:53 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:
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.

Australia too. I had never thought anyone would do otherwise, so I'd thought the idea in the comic was even less sensible than it is.

And Denmark too, including the selfservice part. Hell, I thought this was universal! I'm sure it's at the very least the same all over Europe.
Soupspoon wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.
...before repositioning his sporran and going back to the business of refuelling the car..

Well played.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby solune » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:43 pm UTC

ThemePark wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:
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.

Australia too. I had never thought anyone would do otherwise, so I'd thought the idea in the comic was even less sensible than it is.

And Denmark too, including the selfservice part. Hell, I thought this was universal! I'm sure it's at the very least the same all over Europe.

(Same in France) I'm actually worried about how it goes at Randall's place. Can you end up with a few drops of petrol in your diesel or vice versa ? that doesn't seem good for your engine.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:44 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.
...before repositioning his sporran and going back to the business of refuelling the car..

There was rumour of a UK law that a driver is allowed to urinate on the back passenger side wheel in public. Handy if your filler cap is on that side. Two birds getting stoned and all that.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Xenomortis » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:55 pm UTC

solune wrote:
ThemePark wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:
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.

Australia too. I had never thought anyone would do otherwise, so I'd thought the idea in the comic was even less sensible than it is.

And Denmark too, including the selfservice part. Hell, I thought this was universal! I'm sure it's at the very least the same all over Europe.

(Same in France) I'm actually worried about how it goes at Randall's place. Can you end up with a few drops of petrol in your diesel or vice versa ? that doesn't seem good for your engine.

I really doubt that the addition of a hose-worth amount of petrol will hurt your diesel engine, given a full tank of the correct fuel (or vice-versa).
I have heard that around 10-20% of the wrong fuel won't cause issues, but I haven't found a credible source (not that I've really looked).

Putting petrol in a diesel car isn't an uncommon mistake in the UK - the petrol nozzles are usually slim enough to fit into the diesel caps.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby orthogon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:17 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:I really doubt that the addition of a hose-worth amount of petrol will hurt your diesel engine, given a full tank of the correct fuel (or vice-versa).
I have heard that around 10-20% of the wrong fuel won't cause issues, but I haven't found a credible source (not that I've really looked).

Sounds like a good reason to wait till the tank is quite empty and fill 'er up, thus minimising the proportion of the delivery that the unknown contents of the hose represents. The hoses are quite girthy (at least 1cm2 inner diameter?), and these days a lot of filling stations are fitting "extra long" ones (3-5m long) that reach to both sides so you don't need to worry which side the filler cap is on1. One of those could easily contain a goodly fraction of a litre of fuel, so best to make sure you're putting in several tens of litres.

1 One of my best "lucky 10,000" moments was when somebody told me that the petrol pump symbol on the fuel gauge always has a little triangular arrow showing which side the filler cap is. It's a brilliantly useful convention, particularly if like me you don't have your own car so are dealing with a different rental/car club car every time. I'm not even sure how well known it is.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Flumble » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:22 pm UTC

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.

Needles to say, here in the Netherlands we also have separate hoses for each type of liquid.
Also, for those interested, here's an overview of our (high) fuel prices in €.

orthogon wrote:1 One of my best "lucky 10,000" moments was when somebody told me that the petrol pump symbol on the fuel gauge always has a little triangular arrow showing which side the filler cap is. It's a brilliantly useful convention, particularly if like me you don't have your own car so are dealing with a different rental/car club car every time. I'm not even sure how well known it is.

Guess I'm one of today's 225000; I'll keep that in mind in case I have to refill a car in the future. :D

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Xenomortis » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:27 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
Xenomortis wrote:I really doubt that the addition of a hose-worth amount of petrol will hurt your diesel engine, given a full tank of the correct fuel (or vice-versa).
I have heard that around 10-20% of the wrong fuel won't cause issues, but I haven't found a credible source (not that I've really looked).

Sounds like a good reason to wait till the tank is quite empty and fill 'er up, thus minimising the proportion of the delivery that the unknown contents of the hose represents. The hoses are quite girthy (at least 1cm2 inner diameter?), and these days a lot of filling stations are fitting "extra long" ones (3-5m long) that reach to both sides so you don't need to worry which side the filler cap is on1. One of those could easily contain a goodly fraction of a litre of fuel, so best to make sure you're putting in several tens of litres.

It doesn't really make any difference, assuming your fuel tank already contains the correct fuel.
Unless you purchase only the minimum amount (usually ~2 litres), filling up with ridiculous frequency and *always* fill up with a hose still containing the wrong amount of fuel, eventually raising the concentration of "wrong" fuel in your tank.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:05 pm UTC

solune wrote: I'm actually worried about how it goes at Randall's place. Can you end up with a few drops of petrol in your diesel or vice versa ? that doesn't seem good for your engine.


All pumps in the USA have separate hoses for gasoline (petrol) and diesel; to the best of my recollection the diesel nozzle won't fit into a gas-fuel tank pipe.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:29 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:Also, for those interested, here's an overview of our (high) fuel prices in €.
Round these 'ere parts, 1.059*..1.109GBP/litre (I'll refrain from the conversion to dollars a US gallon, but let's say €1.24 for the metric), both standard unleaded and diesel. Been as high as £1.30 a year or five back.

* mostly it's in pence-per-litre, and always ".9" of a penny at the end, because advertising 107.9p/l is of course vastly more attractive than 108p/l. The exception was when prices started to break the £1/l barrier, and forecourts may have had to repurpose the prominent "97.9" displays to "101", or similar, with the decimal point covered up. Those that didn't tape ".9" modifiers onto the sign as well, until the new display hardware was fitted... ;)

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:39 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
solune wrote: I'm actually worried about how it goes at Randall's place. Can you end up with a few drops of petrol in your diesel or vice versa ? that doesn't seem good for your engine.


All pumps in the USA have separate hoses for gasoline (petrol) and diesel; to the best of my recollection the diesel nozzle won't fit into a gas-fuel tank pipe.

Correct; they're also color-coded. But I looked at Wikipedia, and apparently the color-coding is reversed when you cross the Pond:

USAan color-coding: gasoline=black, diesel=green.
UKan colour-coding: petrol=green, diesel=black.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:51 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:USAan color-coding: gasoline=black, diesel=green.
UKan colour-coding: petrol=green, diesel=black.

I think (it's been a while, and my memory... Ooh shiny!) that it used to be petrol(eum/gas(oline)) as red, over here, at least for three- and four-star, but unleaded arrived as 'green' and is now the only 'petrol' there is (in regular and premium/super kinds). Diesel(/DERV) has been identified in its 'packaging' as black for as long as I've known it, to reflect its industrial uses.

Not counting "red diesel" which is actually dyed red to indicate its tax-exemption/reduction status for agricultural use (and woe betide the haulage contractor found to have it in its vehicles' tanks), but I think proper users tend to get it delivered, and certainly don't get it at a regular service station...

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby orthogon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:06 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:[But I looked at Wikipedia, and apparently the color-coding is reversed when you cross the Pond:

USAan color-coding: gasoline=black, diesel=green.
UKan colour-coding: petrol=green, diesel=black.

"The nice thing about standards is there are so many of them to choose from!" - A. Tanenbaum

Holy $DEITY. That's worse than when y'all decided to use red for the Republicans and blue for the Democrats.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:29 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Holy $DEITY. That's worse than when y'all decided to use red for the Republicans and blue for the Democrats.

Blue has always been the traditional color of liberalism.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby thunk » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:13 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
solune wrote: I'm actually worried about how it goes at Randall's place. Can you end up with a few drops of petrol in your diesel or vice versa ? that doesn't seem good for your engine.


All pumps in the USA have separate hoses for gasoline (petrol) and diesel; to the best of my recollection the diesel nozzle won't fit into a gas-fuel tank pipe.

Correct; they're also color-coded. But I looked at Wikipedia, and apparently the color-coding is reversed when you cross the Pond:

USAan color-coding: gasoline=black, diesel=green.
UKan colour-coding: petrol=green, diesel=black.

"The nice thing about standards is there are so many of them to choose from!" - A. Tanenbaum


I have seen some fuel stations with separate hoses for various grades of petrol/gasoline--others using the same one for all three.
Also, our "87" octane rating corresponds to British "92" or something. Different measurement.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby speising » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:35 pm UTC

Probably because the US customary unit has 180 percent in a whole.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:07 pm UTC

It's because the UK uses a lower engine speed, among other things, when testing for knocking to calculate the octane number. Wikipedia has a good explanation. The UK uses RON standard while the US uses (R+M)/2.

orthogon wrote:
DennyMo wrote:As I read the first frame, I was bracing for an Amway sales pitch of some sort...
Wee Red Bird wrote:In the UK, it is different hoses for the different grades of fuel.

You still find a few places like that in the US, but most of them have cut corners to simplify maintenance.

Perhaps the much lower price of petroline in the US has something to do with it. In the UK, it's almost half as expensive per litre as (bottled) water!

Holy shit your bottled water must be expensive. You really pay £2/L for water? On purpose?

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby trpmb6 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:15 pm UTC

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).
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby trpmb6 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:18 pm UTC

And before anyone asks the obvious question.. "why do business jets have winglets then.."

I make that argument every day at work but Marketing has a lot of power... customers think they should have them because the big commercial jets have them too. Unbeknownst to them they are actually costing themselves weight, fuel and extra repair costs later. :lol:
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Re: 1721: "FRAKKING CYLONS!"

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:57 pm UTC

trpmb6 wrote:And before anyone asks the obvious question.. "why do business jets have winglets then.."

I make that argument every day at work but Marketing has a lot of power... customers think they should have them because the big commercial jets have them too. Unbeknownst to them they are actually costing themselves weight, fuel and extra repair costs later. :lol:
What's a winglet?
speising wrote:Probably because the US customary unit has 180 percent in a whole.

Citation needed.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Archgeek » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:34 pm UTC

DennyMo wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:And its mostly self service, You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.
You see plenty of farmers in the US doing that, too. Come to think of it, lots of them have Scottish surnames...


Oklahoman, here, not a farmer, and I only do that to avoid dripping gas from the nozzle onto something, like a shoe or the ground; and making a minor, flamable, mess.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:34 pm UTC

Archgeek wrote:
DennyMo wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:And its mostly self service, You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.
You see plenty of farmers in the US doing that, too. Come to think of it, lots of them have Scottish surnames...
Oklahoman, here, not a farmer, and I only do that to avoid dripping gas from the nozzle onto something, like a shoe or the ground; and making a minor, flamable, mess.

I choose to misinterpret the context of this exchange.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Flumble » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:47 pm UTC

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.

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby ThemePark » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:53 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:It's because the UK uses a lower engine speed, among other things, when testing for knocking to calculate the octane number. Wikipedia has a good explanation. The UK uses RON standard while the US uses (R+M)/2.

orthogon wrote:
DennyMo wrote:As I read the first frame, I was bracing for an Amway sales pitch of some sort...
Wee Red Bird wrote:In the UK, it is different hoses for the different grades of fuel.

You still find a few places like that in the US, but most of them have cut corners to simplify maintenance.

Perhaps the much lower price of petroline in the US has something to do with it. In the UK, it's almost half as expensive per litre as (bottled) water!

Holy shit your bottled water must be expensive. You really pay £2/L for water? On purpose?

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.
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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:18 am UTC

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...

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Re: 1721: "Business Idea"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:23 am UTC

Archgeek wrote:
DennyMo wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:And its mostly self service, You'll find many a Scotsman draining the hose and shaking the last drop off the end.
You see plenty of farmers in the US doing that, too. Come to think of it, lots of them have Scottish surnames...


Oklahoman, here, not a farmer, and I only do that to avoid dripping gas from the nozzle onto something, like a shoe or the ground; and making a minor, flamable, mess.

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.
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