Every time I fill up my car with petrol nowadays I am seething with anger at the exorbitant price.
  • My anger is fuelled (pun intended) by various issues surrounding the price of petrol.  For starters, most of it is tax.  Worse than that, there is VAT imposed on top so we are taxed on the tax!  Added to that, the price always seems to rocket upwards with a rise in the oil price and yet for some strange reason, the reverse never quite happens.  The problem with irritants of this kind is that we are disenfranchised.  All governments are so dependent on the revenue generated by petrol that no regime (whatever its political shade) will do away with the heavy burden of duty.  I could write a letter to the Prime Minister or better still, to God, complaining about the world dwindling oil reserves but the reality is that this is the sort of complaint about which one can do nothing other than shrug one’s shoulders.
  • Our lives are littered with similar examples of overpricing about which we can do very little.  I have just returned from a skiing holiday in Norway.  The snow was wonderful, the skies were blues and the skiing perfect but the beer – oh my god – the beer.  At £8 for a glass you would expect it to comprise liquid gold but alas not.  Everything in Norway is eye-wateringly expensive – not just the alcohol.  Taxis, food, water….What can you do about this?  The answer is nothing.  If you cannot af-fjiord it, do not go to Norway.  If you can afford it, clench your teeth and suffer the pain.
  • As a general rule, the only situation in which you can complain about overcharging is when you have been misled.  The classic examples involve builders and garages where a price is quoted at the outset but the goal posts subsequently change.  The key to avoid getting ripped off in this way is to be meticulous about contractual terms, small print before you get stung.  Reputable contractors will play ball.  Less reputable ones will happily spring a nasty surprise on you at the end of the job.