Nova Scotia

Web experiment to test the power of buying bulk fuel

A Halifax realtor is trying to harness the power of the internet to deliver discount heating oil to his clients. It's a web experiment testing the power of buying in bulk.

Halifax realtor trying to harness the internet to deliver discount heating oil to clients

Bill McMullin is a Halifax realtor. (CBC)

A Halifax realtor is trying to harness the power of the internet to deliver discount heating oil to his clients.

It's a web experiment testing the power of buying in bulk.

Bill McMullin's main business is real estate but he's branching out into something new.

"We put out a call to action on the website and asked people if they'd be interested in joining a buying group for furnace oil," said McMullin. "They would simply have to register by giving us the first three digits of their postal code and telling us approximately how many litres of fuel they'd burn in a season."

McMullin said that's where the bargaining begins.

"We're then going to go out to the furnace oil suppliers and essentially ask them to bid for the business," said McMullin. "To put their best foot forward with the best discount to the users."

McMullin's experiment seems to be popular. More than 260 homeowners have responded on the website viewpoint.ca. Collectively they're interested in buying more than 500,000 litres of fuel this winter.

"I definitely want to bid on it, nobody in their right mind would pass up a half-million litre account," said Christopher Anthony of Aabel Fuels. He thinks the program could work.

"All the big guys get the benefits of a preferred price for volume. If all the small guys go together as a group that makes total sense to me," said Anthony.

Homeowner Corey Regan heard about the buying group last week and hopes that preferred price materializes in his fuel tank.

"It was a Eureka moment, because I had just seen that $975, and I don't want to pay that for a tank of oil," said Regan.

The deadline for joining the buying group is in the afternoon of Oct. 19. After that it's up to the local fuel market place to determine how much discount it can deliver.

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