Mark’s Rant: Helium Shortage? No! Helium Hostage? YES!!

I remember long ago in a galaxy far, far away, in a lovely place just like here, when gasoline cost less than 30 cents (US) per gallon. It stayed in that 25 to 30 cent range for years and years. Of course, those days are long gone, as gasoline has become more valuable than gold; has started wars around the globe; has brought entire nations to its knees. And for the last 30 years or so has been on a pricing up tick that has gone on virtually non-stop. Oh sure, we get a little relief in pricing now and then. Let’s see, if it goes up 20 cents it will then back down three or four cents and we will feel so relieved, won’t we? We will be so grateful we are saving money at the pump. But wait! We forgot we are paying almost double what we paid for the same item just a few short years ago.
My friends, get used to this kind of pricing paranoia with your Helium supplies because this is now the world WE live in. Helium will go up and up and up. Then we’ll get a little relief (but never back to pricing levels from only a year or so ago) and then it will be on the rise again.
And how about those surcharges!! My supplier was so nice last week. We got the letter, “We regret to inform you – blah, blah, blah” and they were only raising our prices 25%! But here’s the good news, “We are happy to inform you we will be rolling back our surcharges to you by cutting those fees in half.” WOW, yippee, let’s all dance a little jig, thank our lucky stars, kiss my suppliers feet – you compressed gas guys are the greatest! Wait a minute! Weren’t you the same guys that doubled my surcharges on August 2, 2008 with no notice to us whatsoever? Weren’t you the same guys that merged with not one, but two other compressed gas giants so you could, “ease the pricing pressures and smooth out supply?”
Did I miss something here?
“Why yes you did Mr. Zettler. You’re missing lots more of your hard earned money. Now just as soon as we can, we’ll be sure to raise your Helium charges again. We’ll let you know how much REAL SOON and have a nice day!”

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