I looked at our rebate last year so I thought I would do it again this year.
From April 2010 to April 2nd 2011 we purchased $1,823.96 worth of fuel from the Peninsula Coop for a rebate of $85.73. The rate this year was 4.7%, down from 5.1% last year. If we had the same rate as last year, this would have been another $7.30 in rebate.
The rebate in our hand was $47.13, well in the form of a voucher we could use at the Coop. This is equal to 2.6% of our purchases in 2010/11 or about 3 cents a litre.
We now have $105.10 worth of preferred shares of Peninsula Coop. The first of which we will see in four more years. In 2015 it will be rather small, but in 2016 it should more or less double our rebate, assuming our patterns have not changed.
We also have an outstanding balance $32.91 in our patronage allocation balance for our common shares - this is the rebate we did not spend from 2008/09. We lost our 2008/09 voucher, so I have no idea what happens to that money.
We spent $331.59 less at Coop in 2010/11 than in 2009/10 even though the price of gas was about 15% more expensive in 2010/11. This is not because we have only one vehicle now, we only went to one in the summer. I suspect that we did drive a bit less. We also are no longer nearly as conscientious about making sure we go to the Coop, as an example, we tank up at Costco whenever we are there.
I have to say I do not feel like I am an owner of Peninsula Coop. To me it really is all about the money I am saving. Yes we get a vote for the board members and Coop gives donations to the local community, but it does not connect with me on a personal level.
When I was younger I was enthusiastic about joining coops or credit unions but as I have aged they have become more and more like just any other business and my drive to be part of them is no longer there. As an example, I now bank with a major bank and not a credit union as I did for close to 20 years.
I think it all comes down to the coops becoming so large that there is no longer a sense of knowing the people involved on a first name basis. The last coop election had 1746 votes cast out of a pool I think 55,000 members. That is just over a 3% turnout in the election. It also means that the over 300 people working for Peninsula Coop could be the deciding factor in the election. Staff can control the operation of the coop at the board level when so few people bother to vote. This is effectively what has happened with MEC.