Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
You are always suggesting people use gas apps to find the best prices. I find these programs very inaccurate. One of the more popular would be Gas Buddy. I’m parked at a Walmart for the night. Right across the street is a Shell Station. Gas Buddy is telling me that the price of gas there is $3.69 per gallon. The Shell sign says it’s $3.87. Which one do you think I’m going to be asked to pay? Perhaps all this online, high tech, wizardry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Am I doing something wrong, or is the 18 cent difference the fudge factor? My mother always said I asked too many questions. Maybe I’m incurable.
--Skeptic in Schenectady
You have to take everything with a grain of salt. It’s good to maintain a degree of skepticism. My point is that information gathering will help you make better decisions, so keep asking questions and looking for answers. It’s very healthy. Using a tool such as this app might not be as precise as we would like it, but on average it will save you money. The way I use these gas apps is to let it help target the lowest priced gas stations in a geographical area. No matter what the price, that station will often still have the lowest price. The gas price heat map of the entire U.S. will help you identify the cheapest route, illustrate the areas with the highest gas tax, and help you plan your best pit stops. Most of these apps work off data from credit card swipes, and usually keeps them quite current.
You should love Google. It’s full of answers. I use Google for my doctor, mechanic, vet, tour guide--the list goes on. I just visited my motorhome manufacturer and they were too busy to have a tech talk to me about my room slides, but Google’s YouTube had a guy standing by who was glad to walk me through the slide adjustment procedure. I also use the many RV forums when I have a mechanical problem I can’t figure out. I read them all because some people will complain if they are "hung with a new rope." Like the gas app, I take a consensus of opinion before I proceed.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink