Mr West and I have just completed a road trip across part of the US. He drove more than 3,000 miles in 11 days across Arizona, Colarado, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. It was great fun but also a little hairy as we encountered much more snow than we had anticipated.
We were in a rather sweet Chevy Camaro, which is not the most fuel-efficient of cars but with the US’s fuel pricing, who cares?
We obviously visited quite a few forecourts along the way and the lowest price we saw for unleaded ’gas’ was $2.64 a gallon (which converts to an astonishing £2.10 a gallon). The highest we saw it was circa $3.50 a gallon. And while drivers over here quibble about an extra 1p or 2ppl and will drive across town to get their fuel a fraction cheaper, we noticed that some forecourts sited really close to each other in the US had prices that varied by 50 cents (around 40p) a gallon.
When I first went to the US, erm 31 years ago, their forecourt sites seemed amazing and so ahead of ours. Today we have caught up and, in many cases, exceeded their sites in terms of range and standards.
Of course, at all the forecourts we visited we had to pay before we pumped. Some didn’t like my debit card but it was no problem going in the shop and handing over some cash, pumping the ’gas’ then going to retrieve the receipt and the change.
One of my most interesting experences was in Wyoming where I witnessed a forecourt giving excellent service.
A lady drove up to the pumps. An attendant came out (I think it was actually the owner). She opened her window, told the attendant what she wanted. He filled the car up. The lady gave him her money. He took it inside, rung it through the till and then went out and gave her her change and off she drove. Having seen all this I asked whether he did it very often. "All the time," he said. "We’re the only gas station for miles around that offers this service so lots of people come to us. And we love doing it." Now I know that some forecourts offer this type of service for disabled customers here in the UK. But this was an able-bodied lady who just appreciated that very personal service.