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Pump Talk: Best of 2008

Rearviewmirror_mischiru What would the end of another year be without a look back at the highs and lows of the last 12 months?  PumpTalk celebrated it's first birthday sometime in September (exact date is still up for debate), which means 2008 was the first full-year of "being part of the conversation".   I'm getting a little tired of that phrase, but it still has meaning because we certainly were part of some interesting conversations in 2008.

So, for our loyal readers or those just dropping by, allow me to share the highs, lows and funny bits that stuck out in a pretty remarkable year.

Baby Baby

As anyone who watches TV or reads magazines knows, people can't get enough of baby news.  While it was merely a coincidence, team member Sneh Seetal and her husband were happy to oblige with their first child...which meant we started the year with a baby announcement.    Sneh returned to work this fall and I'm happy to report that her, Daddy and Baby are doing great.

Sorry, that's my evil twin brother again...

Most media interviews are pretty short, so I usually mention PumpTalk so people can find further information or ask a question/leave a comment.  When gas prices started to rise in February, I went on Canada AM and Beverly Thomson was kind enough to mention this site.  Before I got back to the office, I had already received a few comments from people who had watched the show.   One was from Diane who was quite upset with a certain Mr. Hamilton....he DID NOT answer the questions....took umbrage with the term "customer gouging"...TOO BAD....  

This happened again after an interview on the Charles Adler show about Hurricane Ike.  Among others, Brian wrote the following comment on my post: I listened to Mr. Hamilton on "Adler On Line" trying to explain the increase in gas prices due to Ike. I suggest you need a new PR guy.   Ouch.

While it would be tempting (kinda cool?) to assume a blogger secret-identity annd simply blame that evil Mr. Hamilton guy for the unpopular stuff, that wouldn't be in keeping with good social media etiquette.  My name appears at the bottom of each post, but I can understand the confusion.   So, I avoided the temptation to simply let "Mr. Hamilton" take the fall and admitted I was also the PR guy and stood by my statements. I then did my best to further respond.  

You have questions?  We have answers.

Maybe not the conspiracy-laden answers some are looking for, but we covered some pressing Q's in 2008, such as:

Why do gas prices change when commodity prices change?

Why is the price of premium gas higher?

What's the relationship between crude oil and gas prices?

Why did a Hurricane in Texas affect gas prices in Canada?

We also fixed the search function on the right, so just type in your question and it will find previous posts. If you don't see an answer to your question or concern, just send us a comment.

Breaking Ground and Breaking News

Kelli Stevens, who took over for Sneh while she was on maternity leave, went out to Vancouver with a camera and a shot of bravery and asked Vancouverites about BC's carbon tax and posted it here and on YouTube.  Michael Southern, our "How Stuff Works" writer helped explain the refining process in a way that even I understand.   Sneh got back into the swing of things and talked about taking the roof rack off your vehicle to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency...using her new appreciation for all the stuff you need when travelling with a kid as inspiration.

We also used PumpTalk to share information and answers on issues that mattered to our customers and our our employees.  From a gas shortage in Western Canada to concerns about gas pump calibration, hurricanes and many other issues, this blog matured, grew in importance and taught us all a lot about how to improve our ability to communicate and, more importantly, to listen.    

And we had some fun...

We deal with serious topics, but also love the fact that writing for a blog, ableit a corporate one, allows us to stretch our writing skills and write about subects that otherwise would not have a home.  We found several quirky studies linking all kinds of behaviour to gas prices.   We took on those annoying "This will really work!" email boycott hoaxes and other things.   My all-time favourite was the story of a young couple trying to keep a long-distance relationship going...Marie-Eve in Montreal and Stéphane in Ottawa.   He told Canadian Press that he was spending an extra $60 a month on gasoline..."approximately – the price of a night out or two".   Romantic. 

Hopefully now that gas prices have come back down those two young lovers are doing ok.  And Marie-Eve is being treated to more than a $30 night out.

So that was 2008

We covered a lot of ground, continued to grow our audience and learned a lot that we'll use to improve this blog and many other things we do in 2009.   I got called a few names and the exchange was heated at times, but I can't imagine doing this job without the ability to talk and listen directly to those people looking for answers or to simply vent their frustrations. 

If you're a fellow PR Hack (my favourite term this year) and your company isn't involved in Social Media, I would recommend getting involved as soon as possible.  Feel free to borrow whatever you want from this site and contact me or my many talented colleagues at the Blog Council if you want more information.   Just don't let the fear of what could happen keep you from doing what should happen.  

Thanks also to Corinn, Kate, Brendan, Lorne, Lucy and everyone else who helped us learn and move forward in 2008.   While I'm hoping for calmer waters on the pricing front in 2009 (not a prediction!), I look forward to keeping this conversation going.

On behalf of all of us at PumpTalk, thanks for visiting and challenging us throughout the year.  Have a safe and happy new year!


Photo Credit: mischiru


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Cliff Riles

Once again I see Petro Canada leading the way with a price increase, in some parts of Edmonton there price went up 7.5 cents a litre. Still for 2009 Petro Canada's motto will be " First Up, Last Down" To bad the price didnt go down as fast as you put it up. Keep up the good PR work, I think someone may buy your BS.


the gas price is 76 cents in kimberley bc canada how much more is the going down?

Cliff Riles

Here we go again in Edmonton Petro Canada raised it prices by over 6 cents a litre in the past three weeks. Please explain to me why Petro Canada has raised it prices by over 13 cents a liter. O right forget it I forgot your motto at Petro Canada,"FIRST UP LAST DOWN". Keep up the great PR work cause you don't fool any of us in the West.


Jan. 15, 09
Bear market intensifies for crude oil; prices tumble to US$35.40 a barrel, but the whosale gasoline price at the pumps in Toronto will go up for 1.5c a litre doesn't make sense.


can anyone tell us why we are paying $4.13 per GALLON (.914 per liter in the MONTREAL area) and the price of oil per barrel is sitting at $32.00 approximate US. I know personally I can not wait to travel to the US where it is around $1.90 US per US GALLON. We as Canadians should get the oil companies as well as the government to reduce these prices. The oils comapnies are also claiming that they are NOT making Money. Canadians are getting the short end, as usual.


Why are gas prices going up again while we have seen oil prices coming down for months?

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