We all feel the pinch from time to time and need to watch the pennies. At least some things are genuinely free, like air. That’s true in a narrow sense but many types and formats of air are not free. In some cases, the air we want to put into our vehicle tyres to keep them safe and economical is not free.

These days at fuel stations you tend to see large automated machines that provide you with air and water on payment of a coin, typically a euro or a pound. Other fuel stations have free air dispensers, but they don’t work much of the time, or the gauge is broken or illegible.

Air is part of the overall service that a fuel station provides, along with a host of other vehicle- and house-related items.

In my town there are 3 fuel stations. They have a tendency to converge on exactly the same price, even down to the tenth of a cent per litre, which is worth another post in itself. I have a policy, where prices in my locality are comparable, to buy my full tank of fuel – about €80 – at the station that has a free and regularly functioning air dispenser, so I can check my tyres too.

You reward the suppliers who have your long-term interests at heart and who try to provide a more rounded service, some elements of which may cost them money, but which they recoup in spades.

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