By on February 4, 2013
YouTube Preview Image

Local propaganda almost always serves to screw the little guy. With rare exception, it never fails to do so.

We need a new stadium!”, cries the billionaire whose team already got one just two decades go. “Please pay for it John Q Public!”

“Hey! What about me?”, screams the local electric company CEO. “We really need to double the monthly service charge for our  local residents to manage our costs. But let’s also throw in a double digit rate reduction for those who use a lot of energy. Like the billionaire and his businesses. After all, they create the jobs out here!”

And the story drones on. The trash company that owns a multitude of companies that have virtually nothing to do with trash, wants to hike your bill.  Because they need to hit their numbers. Just like everybody else.  The insurance company. The gas company. The local government. The state government. Heck, every local monopolist and oligopoly is thrusting their well oiled lobbyist machines right at your shrinking wallet.

Guess who else is doing it now? The auto parts stores.

I now pay as much for conventional motor oil as I did for synthetic just a few years ago. Battery prices have nearly doubled. Items that used to only come in small containers, such as brake fluid and power steering fluid, are now heavily marketed in containers bigger than your head. For just a mere few cents of extra liquid the nationwide auto parts chain can improve their profits by “Big Gulp” margins.

Who pays? You do. Not to mention your shrinking shelf space in the garage.

This tactic of suckering in the consumer with the allure of the large item is nothing new. During my last visit to ‘Cheap Discount Auto Parts Emporium’ I could have sworn I heard the intercom speaker blare out the following in their classic phony, cheesy shopping voice.

“Attention customers! Need to tackle a big job? Why just buy the Titanic version of our bountiful fluids! The more you spend,  the more you save!”

Then the voice got slightly more sinister.

“Just make extra sure you don’t kick over that bottle while doing it Mister D I Y. In which case we also have a gallon of driveway cleaner for only $19.99.  Oh, and before you forget, since your tranny is also going south, please make sure you also buy 10 small quarts of our store brand transmission fluid instead of two large containers. We’re hiding those in the back for our commercial customers. Have a nice day!”

And they are hiding them in the back for now. When I asked our store manager for the five quart containers of the store brand tranny fluid, she couldn’t locate them. Anywhere.

They turned out to be in the back room along with all the other discontinued items.

Folks, if this keeps up we’ll have to rid ourselves of all those wonderful cheap beaters. Apparently it costs too much money to be cheap these days.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

52 Comments on “Hammer Time: The Trickle Down Effect...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    Sad but true ~ .

    As it turns out , greed _isn’t_ so good after all .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The American Economy continues to rot from the foundation upwards, while the main stream media, acting as the proxy shills for government (owned by the financial sector), continue to spread the message of “all is well.”

      Steve Lang, you’re just wrong about this mythical increase in prices you allege to see. Do you dare to debate illustrious economists such as Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who has proclaimed and still is proclaiming that “inflation is too low” as the institution he heads does everything in its power to increase the rate of inflation?

      The following article is one year old now, but the explosion in commodity prices that it tracked up to that point coincided nicely with the Federal Reserve’s expansion of their balance sheet from roughly 300 billion USD to 3 trillion USD presently, as it began to print massive numbers of dollars as quickly as it could (by purchasing U.S. Treasury Notes in the secondary markets; roughly 60% of all such tnotes, in fact) since 2008.

      So, despite that 70% of the historically low number of jobs created since the great recession began have been low wage, service sector jobs, despite that people who utilize SNAP/EBT Cards now number nearly 50 million (1 in 6 Americans), despite that the “labor participation rate is at the lowest rate as a % of the total labor force since the Great Depression (since people are literally dropping out of the labor force due to the diseased economy), and despite that consumer debt in the U.S. has hit an all time high, Bernanke and the Federal Reserve believe that higher inflation rates will be good for the economy and nation.

      If there’s one thing that will help the economy during a time of stagnant growth in employment and a decline in real wages and household wealth, it’s higher prices for everything from food, to gasoline, to medical care and tuition (it’s also of great utility that the wise elders that track & report inflation either do not include or minimize the inflationary impact from rising food and energy costs since so few people need food or energy on a daily basis):

      The Low Inflation Lie
      http://usawatchdog.com/the-low-inflation-rate-lie/

      And charts such as the one utilized in this article on the same topic make inflation much easier to spot:

      http://blackswaninsights.blogspot.com/2010/11/more-inflation-propaganda-it-is-too-low.html

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        Will you please get an economics degree, and stop quoting random articles from financial muck-rakers?

        Bernanke is is talking about inflation as it pertains to the US money supply. The Fed cannot control global demand-pull inflation for commodities, nor would Bernanke comment on demand pull inflation in a conversation about the money supply.

        The point of higher inflation is not hard to figure out. First, the Fed want to utilize a Phillips Curve strategy. In the short-run (macro short run)inflation and unemployment have an inverse relationship. In other words, high inflation will reduce unemployment, as it did in the 1970s. Furthermore, our economy is heavily leveraged. Inflation raises the nominal value of our wages and increases and the real value of our debts decreases. The economy can de-leverage without severe contraction.

        It’s a precarious strategy, and criticism is surely warranted, but the articles you post are ridiculous. The only hole in the US economy as it pertains to commodities is oil. We’re raising production, increasing fuel economy, and substituting oil alternatives like gas. We are a net exporter of agricultural goods, lumber, raw textile materials, etc. Do you think our economy is exposed to rising commodities prices?

        No!! That’s why the Fed doesn’t care. Furthermore, shifting consumptive habits are not particularly problematic for retailers compared to the specter of prolonged unemployment.

  • avatar

    “Apparently it costs too much money to be cheap these days.”

    Love it!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Back to the dealer for everything! Welcome to the future…

    Think of it this way: Once you’ve gotten rid of all the stuff you needed to “do it yourself”, you have lots of extra space in your garage, so now you can actually park your car in there. Your heap will thank you by running and looking better than sitting out in the weather all the time!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Stuff is generally cheaper on the internet. Between Amazon’s generally lower prices and avoided sales taxes, motor oil costs me about 15-20% less

    Plus inflation is what it is and is completely out of the control of suppliers/shops. I’m not gonna open up the political can of worms, but even in that realm, the cost of oil is not really controllable. Nobody but oil companies gain anything from $100/bbl oil

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Sporty

      Amazon is now charging sales taxes on orders shipped to PA customers because Amazon has a shiping center in the state. This qualifies as a “physical presence”, and thus sales taxes for residents apply. This is just the beginning of universal sales taxes for internet customer.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    …so I just go to Walmart…

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      So do I, and the same thing is happening there. Their car battery prices have skyrocketed (batteries that were $60 a few years ago are now $100, you might as well go to Sears), and containers have gotten smaller too – witness the new “fun-sized” 12 fl. oz. brake fluid containers, priced the same as the old 16 fl. oz. ones.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I do try to support our local AutoZone as much as I can, because they did my lady a huge service when she needed a new battery, and I don’t forget when someone goes above and beyond. I seldom drive past them just to go to Walmart for smaller purchases.

        On some items though, it’s just not possible. My stepdaughter’s suspension parts had well over 100% markup from Autozone versus online through Rock Auto.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Walmart is cheap cos they use Chinese slave labor and pay U.S. store employees crap wages. Walmart is evil. They have put MANY local stores out of business. And every dollar you spend goes to Arkansas- none of it stays in your community. Do everyone- including you unemployed neighbors- a favor, and shop at a locally owned parts store. More at: http://www.econmatters.com/2012/07/is-wal-mart-evil-20-shocking-facts.html

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        So the locally owned parts store can charge me a fat markup for the same made in China parts? With the prices they charge I can usually get OEM from the dealer which is at least generally made in Japan. The Mazda and Toyota dealers are usually very competitive on parts. The Hyundai dealer for my wife’s Tucson…not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        And the only locally owned parts store I ever shopped at that didn’t take an extra week to get the same parts as everyone else was Parks in Charleston, SC. Now if all the local stores were like that maybe folks would quit shopping at the big box joints. I had a flywheel resurfaced at 2AM there once. They were open 24 hours and yes, when I went in at 2AM they were quite busy. I assume they catered to the livery fleets and what not in the city but the guys actually knew what they were talking about as well. Unlike my friend’s experience at Pep Boys when the Counter guy asked him “Who makes Thunderbird?”

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’ve been buying oil at Walmart; it’s a lot cheaper than the auto stores.

    As for the stadium thing, Pittsburgh has gotten 3 new ones in the last 13 years (football, baseball, hockey) – much of it on the backs of the taxpayers. Heinz Field and PNC Park were taxpayer-funded DESPITE an 11-county-wide vote that turned down the measure. The Pennsylvania state legislature cowed to the team owners’ pleas for public funding.

    This, and the Pirates haven’t had a winning season in 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Don’t worry your friendly Walmart will be increasing prices on it’s auto supplies including oil very soon just as they have done with most other food and non food items throughout the store for 2013.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Shop locally. Walmart is evil. I work there. They pay crap. They treat workers like crap. And every dollar you spend goes out of the community. More at: http://www.econmatters.com/2012/07/is-wal-mart-evil-20-shocking-facts.html

  • avatar
    skor

    “Local propaganda almost always serves to screw the little guy. With rare exception, it never fails to do so.

    “We need a new stadium!”, cries the billionaire whose team already got one just two decades go. “Please pay for it John Q Public!”

    “Hey! What about me?”, screams the local electric company CEO. “We really need to double the monthly service charge for our local residents to manage our costs. But let’s also throw in a double digit rate reduction for those who use a lot of energy. Like the billionaire and his businesses. After all, they create the jobs out here!”

    =========

    I love you.

    As for cheap oil, yesterday I got a deal at Autozone, $16.99 for 5 quart jug of Quaker State plus STP filter and a $10 mail-in rebate…today is the last day for this deal.

    http://www.autozone.com/autozone/landing/page.jsp?name=cash-rebate&intcmp=20130130_bz_2

    It’s still possible to get cheap auto stuff if you are trying to keep one or two beaters going. If you are small businessman, you’re screwed.

    BTW, here is the mother of all government/private developer boondoggles. I give you American Bad Dream/Crapadu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Dream_Meadowlands

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Personally, I will happily pay the extra at NAPA to avoid going to Walmart – that place gives me a rash. I have enough cars that larger sizes are a blessing, not a curse.

  • avatar
    Skink

    Since the Vikings screwed taxpayers out of hundreds of millions for a new stadium last year, now the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota just announced it wants hundreds of millions from Minnesotans to help pay for development expenses to help them attract patients, and to help them attract and retain employees.

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    Here in Canada I have noticed just the opposite. The price of oil etc has really dropped. Perhaps things are just leveling out?

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Yes oil is expensive nowadays. But have you seen the prices of the tools? They are just amazingly cheap. I just bought a measuring caliper from the 99c bin. I remember just a few years back I had to spend 6 or 7 bucks just to buy a USED measuring caliper off Ebay.

    Oh yeah- avoid the auto parts chains. Their prices are just plain uncompetitive. Find a local mom-and-pop and stick with them.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      That’s because they are made of cheap China steel so can be sold for far less. If you can find US built tools or higher quality imports they still sell for a lot of money.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Now I will not buy Chinese tools anymore…period. Not worth the headache when they break, and I do break them. If I can’t get the Snap-On I don’t need it. Luckily I get to use the auto hobby shop on Fort Knox which is stocked with Snap On and Blue Point. Chinese tools have given me nothing but frustration.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Our local Advance auto is outlandish on certain things like R134 Freon which costs $1799, wiper blades which cost a minimum of 12 bucks a piece, blue colored washer fluid at 2.19 a gallon and the cheapest store brand oil is 3.50 a quart. Meanwhile our local Big Lots sells the blue washer fluid for 1.49, Freon for 8 bucks, the same brand of Anco wiper blades for 5 bucks a piece and quart of oil is 2.80 for a name brand. These much cheaper prices makes it very difficult to get raped at the local auto parts store.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The Big Box store model allows them to deeply discount certain items to get customers in the door to buy other items, and more of them. Smaller stores just can’t compete on this level.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Thanks for pointing this trend out, I thought it was just me. In Autozone last month I found gallon jugs of power steering fluid taking up more shelf space than the 12 oz bottles. I couldn’t figure out how many people needed it in bulk.
    I try to rationalize going to auto parts stores instead of Walmart for common items like fluids, filters, ect because I want them around when I need something too obscure for Walmart to carry. But it’s getting harder to do.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “In Autozone last month I found gallon jugs of power steering fluid taking up more shelf space than the 12 oz bottles. I couldn’t figure out how many people needed it in bulk.”

      Deferred maintenance during recession = fill fluid reservoir every weekend instead of getting it fixed?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    The descendants of the World War II generation have drank the free-market Kool-Aid a long time ago. Public Utilities? Private. 50% Union membership – with sensible leadership? History. Free public university education for qualified students (in California)? A distant memory. I’m a member of this cohort, and I am ashamed of the world we are leaving you. However, the next time you hear the word “entitlement” spoken, remember that for 40 years I made six figures and paid well in excess of the current top tax rate. Ergo, I’m now collecting the money I paid into the system, not what scraps the government will deign to throw from the table.The cognoscenti have us fighting among ourselves rather than trying to figure out how to raise the bar and float ALL boats. It can be done. Remember, the time to spend is when thing are bad – cut when things are good.Especially while the world is willing to loan us money at, essentially zero interest. The old saying when I was in finance was – “owe your banker $5000 and he’s got you – owe him $50,000,000, you’ve got him”. It seems to me the lessons of the 1929 Depression are lost on our current politicians. A pox on all their houses.

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    I like hyperbole as much as the next guy, but I work at a parts store and when I started in 1994, our premium batteries were $89.95. Today they’re $119.95. That’s not really “doubled” in price as you claim.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      In fact, that’s considerably lower than inflation. If you inflated $89.95 in 1994 to 2013 via CPI, you get $139.35. you’re saving almost 20 bucks.

      Seems like there’s a little bit of “get off my lawn” going on here.

      People on BITOG seem to have no problem getting synthetic oil for dirt cheap, btw.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      I recently replaced a battery in my car. I bought the last one 4 years ago, the price was $69.95. Today, the same batter, from the same retailer, is $99.95. An increase of $30 over 4 years.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Just yesterday I was going through the service records of a Grand Am I inherited. Over the course of a few years the cost of 4.5 quarts of oil went from $14 to $26, at the same garage.

  • avatar
    TR4

    Ever since I’ve been buying conventional motor oil (since 1971) the price of a quart has been between 1 and 1.5 times the price of a gallon of gasoline.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I buy my oil, filters and other fluids at Walmart. I can get a 5qt. jug of quaker state full synthetic for $20.00. As far as the auto parts stores go, they normally have sales just about every week on oil, you can normally get a 5qt. jug of conventional oil and a filter for around 19-20 bucks.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Don’t buy at Walmart. They are the strip miners of retail: they take money out of the local economy, and send it to Arkansas. They treat their employees like slaves. They pay horrible wages. And they force American companies to move overseas, by squeezing concessions. More at: http://www.econmatters.com/2012/07/is-wal-mart-evil-20-shocking-facts.html

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Guess I hate America since I shop there on occasion in spite of my multiple combat deployments to a war all you America Lovers pretend is over. Wrap yourself a little tighter in that flag…I’d hate for you to catch a cold. BTW, have you seen how much money your own government ships overseas?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Personally, I could not care less how Walmart runs their business, and if you are dumb enough to work there, well, you probably couldn’t get hired anywhere else.

      I don’t shop there because it is an unpleasant shopping experience. Cramped aisles, dingy, unhelpful staff, messy, hard to find anything, and the patrons tend toward “interesting, not in a good way”. In contrast, Target is none of these things, and seems to carry a somewhat better class of Chinese crap. Unfortunately their auto aisle is a joke, so I shop at NAPA mostly for that sort of thing. NAPA is much closer to my house anyway. They give a decent AAA discount that makes them competitive enough.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    FWIW, car batteries are way more reliable than years past. Don’t miss having to worry about car starting with a 2-3 year old battery. Good old days of dad jumping the car each winter are not missed.

    One battery lasted nearly 5 years from new, and I replaced it even though it ws still OK.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    TOPIC DRIFT :

    I am pleased to see the evil wally mart comments , so few grasp just how anti – American this company is .

    I choose not to shop there , rest assured .

    Now , back to cars .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      play3rtwo

      I’m a little confused. I hear “buy american! support local business” then “walmart is evil! the money goes to Arkensas”

      … isn’t walmart an american company who’s profits go to a state in the USA?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        It’s funny, Wal-Mart itself used to be all about “buy American” back in the day. Times have changed.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The hate is mostly driven by the fact that a Wal-Mart is a price driven retailer that imports most of its goods from low cost places like China, rather than preferentially buy them from US based companies.

        My father used to fly a salesman around the country who worked for a local plastics manufacturing company, and they would frequently visit Bentonville, AR on sales calls. On the wall of the entrace to the sales office was a sign that read, “If you can build it competitively in the USA, we will buy it from you.”

        The keyword of course being, “competitively”. Like it or not, the retail consumer business is price driven. Wal-Mart constantly pushes for the lowest price, to a point where local manufacturers find it difficult to compete.

        It’s for the consumer to decide whether the overall value of the goods sold at Wal-Mart stores is good enough. In most cases, lowest price wins.

        Personally, I choose not to shop at Wal-Mart because of the poor service and crowded environment.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Has anyone else noticed Junk Yard prices going up as well? On multiple occasions now I have opted for a new part because the junk yard was close on the used part. Supply and demand I guess since more folks are keeping cars longer.

  • avatar
    mburm201

    Boy there’s a lot of ill-founded Walmart hatred around here. Walmart sells a lot of Chinese consumer goods like, well, Target, Shopko, Kmart, et. al. Walmart has lower margins and pressures suppliers on prices more, so they tend to undercut the other vendors of Chinese goods. So Walmart is one of many companies selling Chinese-made consumer goods. It is a specious argument to attack them on that basis. As to wages, Walmart is competitive with other retailers, and the local mom-and-pop stores in my town pay less and have fewer benefits than Walmart. Sorry to break it to you, but being unskilled labor in a depressed economy with a steady immigrant influx is not a good thing to be. I actually like Walmart and take advantage of the good value they offer. While we can lament the passing of the small, independent retailer, it was inevitable without some extreme government regulations like those in Japan that shield small businesses from competition and force consumers to pay exhorbitant prices.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    If for nothing else, we need to support Walmart for these photos.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dtjfHmHlTo


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    tekdemon - Uber drivers definitely double dip, my friend’s gotten a black car the last couple times he used X, and I’ve gotten a huge Denali SUV when I used black (rather...
  • Re: QOTD: The Economics Of Ownership

    danio3834 - The cranks are prescribing as much DIY as feasible for poor people where the economics of doing this does the most to make them less poor. DIYing repairs on an...
  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    CRConrad - @7402: “I’ll wait for the first huge civil suit to meander through the appeals system before putting my own car out there.” So you plan on perhaps signing up...
  • Re: New York 2014: Outtakes Part 2 – Expand Your Horizons

    FJ60LandCruiser - I’d rather have a FEW well-executed models than DOZNES of half-assed platform sharing crossovers, wagonoids, and 4...
  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    CRConrad - @tankinbeans: “One never knows what kind of crazy lurks out there and I wouldn’t be interested in finding out.” So, you realise Lyft drivers might be...
  • Re: Ford C-Max Sales Decline Post-Fuel Economy Revision

    nguyenvuminh - Kyree, yeah, I was really disappointed when Ford changed their mind about selling the Grand C-Max in the US. My key decision factors were...
  • Re: Ford C-Max Sales Decline Post-Fuel Economy Revision

    nguyenvuminh - Hi colin42, yeah, it was right before Thanksgiving. I did an internet query for a 2013 Mazda5 GT and got 4 responses in 3 hours with all...
  • Re: Town And Country Update: Road Trip

    dont.fit.in.cars - I’ve learned to respect the GRANDVAN. Long Island New York to Helen GA and back. Snow storm in NC. Throttle took a bit of getting use to but...
  • Re: New York 2014: Outtakes Part 2 – Expand Your Horizons

    Chris FOM - Except for the 325e, which had a 2.7 L engine. You can find at least one car in every generation of the 3 series where the engine...
  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    CRConrad - +1

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India