by Grand Forks Herald
December 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm in Grand Forks Herald
Gas prices have decreased to $3 or less in Devils Lake and Fargo, but the trend hadn’t reached Grand Forks as of Wednesday. Continue Reading
Tags: Business, GF and EGF, money, North Dakota, updates 95 Comments »
It would be nice to have a “Crazy Market” in Grand Forks once a decade. It is actually very easy to compare the Grand Forks, Bismarck and Fargo market. Grand Forks and Bismarck are controlled by a smaller number of people compared to Fargo. The price in Fargo is much closer to what the true market price should be for a gallon of gas.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 67 2
The solution is simple, boycott archie simonsen. Once his buisness drops he will have to sell the product at a lower price to bring customers back. Every item in his store is sold to maximize profit. I was in on of his stores the other day and could not find a bottle of water for under 1.19! Every other store offers a brand of water at .99.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 91 2
I only buy gas from Sams club. I am already a club member to take advantage of their lower prices or most everything so it doesn’t cost me anymore to but their gas. They are always about 10 cents less per gallon then all but the Flying J.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 43 3
Why is it that everyone knows Simonson’s controls the gas prices in GF and nobody can do anything about it? What I have heard is that no one in town will lower their prices until Simonson’s has. Some of the other owners fear if they lower their price, he will drop his even lower which will cause the other owners to have to drop their price again. Simonson’s can absorb the lower prices where as other stations are not able to because of loss of margin.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 74 1
i agree! its really sad that their greed control our pocket books. shame on them!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 61 2
How much of a markup would you consider greed? 10%? 20%? What?
Like or Dislike: 2 10
Profit margins are minimal for gasoline. The gas stations turn a profit from the sales of pop, junk food, tobacco, etc
Like or Dislike: 13 1
Everyone I talk to in this town cites Archie Simonson and his strangle hold on gas prices here. Why isn’t this Herald piece about that influence? Why doesn’t the Herald do some real, investigative reporting about what’s really going on? Btw, E85 at Stamart has been at $2.89 for quite awhile now, $3.04-$3.09 everywhere else, including Valley Dairy. Why is that? Simonson’s does not sell E85.
We expect better! We need investigative journalism!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 63 1
The only investigative reporting the Herald has done recently was 5 front page pieces titled “Marilyn does Manhattan.” You have to understand those who need to be investgated also advertise in the Herald. That makes them untouchable.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 51 1
I’ve been avoiding Simonson and Dusterhoff for years. My money 90% of the time goes to University Station. If I’m in need of a fill on the south end, it is the FlyingJ, which is the cheapest in town, aside from the member only Sam’s Club.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 27 1
The level of greed seen in this town these days saddens me. Anything to take a little more money out of our pockets and put it into theirs.
I’m sure this is directly due to the visitors we see every weekend from the North. Grand Forks retailers/gas stations/etc see green when Canadians come down for a visit. Do they not understand its the locals that feel the pinch?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 60 2
The filling stations in Devils Lake have called a cease fire in the gas war. Prices are back up to $3.29.
Like or Dislike: 10 12
The company I drive for is out of Fargo so when I don’t take the truck to Forks I commute. In 18 years of commuting the price of gas has generally been a nickle more in Forks, but in the past couple years it’s never been lower than a dime and sometimes fifteen to twenty cents higher…….But what the hell…My vehicles must run much better on that more expensive fuel….Right?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 37 2
My wife and I use well over 150 gallons of gas each and every month and we will never buy from Archie or any othe GF station because there is ‘price fixing’ here. I hate to do it, but I buy my gas either in Fargo or in Minnesota on my way to Cass Lake.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 50 2
I haven’t bought a gallon of local gas from anyone but Flying J since they opened. If they could manage to keep the receipt printers working, it’d be even better. Even Flying J is overcharging, but they overcharge less than the others, and they have a bucket of soapy water to wash my windows with, something Sam’s Club can’t manage.
I will NEVER buy from Simonson again. ‘Course, I don’t buy Crystal Sugar either, and get nothing but ridicule around here for that. Screw it–I boycott for my own reasons, not to satisfy the rest of you.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 54 6
Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.
You like giving your money to the Republican govenor of TN. instead?
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 5 22
Haaazzzaahh! Finally, people are starting to talk openly somewhat about the price collusion running in Grand Forks with the local gasoline market, headed by Simonson. This is a very VERY poor situation that is being allowed to continue, and hopefully will be stomped out from this town. The anti-competitive gasoline market in Grand Forks is abhorring. I purchase my gasoline in Grand Forks from Sams Club…not because I enjoy buying a product that I should be able to get local from a national retailer, but so as to not support the unfair and “illegal” collusion practices within the Grand Forks market.
Oh, one other bit of advice…I had thought perhaps collusion at one point in the past, as most people do, and was shown correct by local Grand Forks economists…act now!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 41 1
It is either a Christmas miracle or concidence that gas dropped 5 cents a gallon the same day this artice was in the paper.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 36 1
They change the prices on wednesday/Thursday around here. The market is dropping so I am not surprised it changed a nickle
Like or Dislike: 15 1
How organized does that sound? Someone tell me again that there isn’t a gas cartel in Grand Forks.
OK I will tell you there is no gas cartel in town.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 4 24
Cartel …. a formal agreement among competing firms. This sounds cartel-ish to me.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 18 1
What does it take for it to get their your rock hard heads there is no agreement?
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 2 18
You see it in every town. This isn’t unique to GF. People gripe about gas because we don’t just buy a gallon like we do milk. It’s life.
Like or Dislike: 9 3
I think people here might understand that GF can’t have prices equal to a town that’s in a constant price war. At the same time, it would seem reasonable to me if GF tried to be within, say, a dime of Fargo.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 25 2
What bothers me about Simonson’s is they are in 10 different cities and prices are different everywhere. So it isn’t about what they pay and a percentage mark-up. It’s about charging as much as they can.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 39 2
How much are gas stations suppose to charge over their costs per gallon? 5%? 10%? 20%? 30%? Should they be like a bar that charges $18 for a six pack of beer that cost them $5? Or maybe charge $90 for that bottle of Windsor that cost them $12? Well? Why are so many of you so jealous of Arch Simonson? Is it because he is successful and you are not?
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 8 56
Terrible comparison, gas and beer are two different things. One is a luxury and the other is a necessary commidity on which we all rely. Although somedays you could might argue which is the luxury and which is the necessity
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 37 1
I see you still did not answer the first part of the question. What percentage of markup should there be? 10%? 20%? 30%? Which of the 3 should it be?
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 5 37
I think it is a terrible and unethical thing that they use a commodity that we all depend on to take as much as they can from the same community they live in. How much is appropriate? I guess that is a matter of your own conscience and unfortunately having one is not a cool trend anymore. To hold something over our heads that we all depend on is a total act in greed. Just because it isn’t illegal does not mean I have to agree with it.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 35 3
I don’t think it should be a percentage over their cost. That doesn’t make sense. It should be a set number of cents over their cost. I would love to know what the stations actually pay for their fuel.
I would guess the wholesale cost is quite similar between here and Fargo – If it isn’t, someone please enlighten us.
I would also guess that the typical markup over wholesale is somewhere around 20-25 cents in Fargo.
That puts GF 40-50 cents higher than wholesale, which I think is plain greed.
Like or Dislike: 14 1
Your numbers are way out of whack. On a good day in Fargo they get 10 cents a gallon. Alot of the time they are at cost even. Anytime GF even gets 20 cents they are as happy as a pig in sheet. Though lately GF has been getting a nice profit that only offsets the times they are selling at cost. I know you people won’t believe me but what I am saying is true.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 4 16
And how much do they make when the fuel in the tank was bought at one price and suddenly because there “Might” be a storm that “Might” cause a shortage someplace that gas goes up a nickle or a dime….But not on the gas that’s already in the tank, and there’s no competition in prices? All of that stinks and hopefully we get more than words about reining in some of this outragous speculating on Wall Street that boosts the prices for no good reason. None the less…If there’s no actual competing pricing because of laws that keep all the pricing in line, then if some OPEC member burps or something and Wall Street suddenly declares fuel might go short….The rise in fuel at the pumps shouldn’t be on the fuel in there at that time because it was purchased at a lower price. Either that or get rid of the restrictions so there can be some actual competing prices.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 16 1
This is because you have to think about what that next tank is going to cost you. The goal is to try and balance it out over the year.
Like or Dislike: 2 11
None the less…Someone shouts “Something someplace might cause a shortage….Maybe” And the prices uniformally rise everyplace within hours. Yet even when nothing actually happened to cause a shortage….getting prices back down takes weeks or better. It’s a sham from the get go. One that needs to get incentive taken out of it so these usually bogus spikes get curbed.
My other point is that because of the multilateral raising of the prices instead of some using their savings on a tank to undercut competators prices to bring more customers in makes this a local sham. That’s basically where the concept of price fixing is shown the strongest. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO COMPETITION WHEN IT COMES TO FUEL PRICING….IT IS FIXED PRICING.
I come from an era when there was actual price differences. Some places cost a bit more, but then they had more service. Others were basically what we have today in most places (Except Odins on Belmont that still pumps and checks things) Stations with no service what so ever at the pumps. And in many places it’s even worse because you have to go in and pay up front even with a card (Bigger cities mostly)…..Unfortunately that’s the trend in a lot of areas today..Pay more for less….
I agree with earlier post. Boycott Simonsons. Someone in town needs to get squeezed or things will never change.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 45 1
Since I’m new here, help me make sure I have it right:
1. The local hospital management and physicians are conspiring to keep other providers out of GF.
2. A handful of landlords are conspiring to keep rents high.
3. A few landowners/developers/realtors are conspiring to keep homes expensive.
4. A grocery store and its butchers are conspiring to deprive city residents of a 1.0 lb package of hamburger.
5. City employees are conspiring to hide the true cost of the Alerus center.
6. All of the gas stations in town are conspiring to keep gas prices high.
7. ACSC and its growers are conspiring to destroy/restore the American Dream (depending on your point of view).
8. The university and the federal government are conspiring to load up students with mountains of debt.
9. The local newspaper is conspiring with everyone else to keep it all covered up.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 64 1
The city is conspiring to keep the mosquito spraying money and spend it on a skateboard park.
But you do catch on fast.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 34 2
Perhaps the slogan should be: “I’m Not Paranoid, It’s Just Everyone Is Out To Get Me!”
Like or Dislike: 12 3
Clever name newcomer …. LOL.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 18 0
And with that handle then it’s obvious you’re part of the Herald Conspiracy to infiltrate the boards to throw stones into theories here….We’re on to you….
Like or Dislike: 7 2
And don’t forget about the library.
Like or Dislike: 17 3
I’ve yammered about that so long it was someone else’s turn.
Like or Dislike: 13 0
Agreed. We all know that the Canadians who come here for the weekend don’t leave Grand Forks on anything less then a full tank. Saying Grand Forks doesn’t have a market is nonsense.
Like or Dislike: 10 0
Given the cost of gas per liter in Manitoba Canadians find it’s a bargain here.
Like or Dislike: 8 0
If you point out any of Grand Forks’ flaws on Engage the Forks they send you a scathing e-mail warning you to “keep it positive” or you will be blocked. I find that to be troubling.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 23 2
Maybe they should change the name to Pravda.
Like or Dislike: 15 2
Boycott the whole lot of them in Grand Forks. Go across the river an but gas. If none of the stations in GF sold any gas for a week or so, I have to wonder if it wouldn’t create some “competition”?
Like or Dislike: 12 0
I’ve heard 2 names in this whole gas issue – Simon and Dusterhoft.
Instead of whining and complaining people, do something. Stop buying gas at stations that are associated with either individual. I say we all start getting gas from the full-serve stations in town. There’s one on Belmont (Orton’s) and one on the corner of N Washington St and N 5th Street I believe. The 2 to 3 cents more that they charge is so worth it. The service is great at those little stations.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 19 0
Funny thing is Dusterfoff is dead. So people blame a dead guy for the price of gas?
Like or Dislike: 8 10
You’d think that these businesses would realize that people are going to go where prices are lower which will result in higher sales in the end.
Well, the crux of the problem is the prices are all the same, and have been for decades. This what leads people to believe there is collusion. Whthere Simonson runs some clearing house where everyone else asks what to charge or not, I don’t know. It just seems strange to me that in the space of a couple hours, all prices rise and fall to the same level.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 17 0
Post your price on a big sign for everyone to see and see what happens.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 3 14
Gas prices in GF are always higher than Fargo these days. I frequently travel there on weekends, and I make sure I fill up before heading back to forks. I do my best to never fill my tank up in this city.
Also GFyourself: you got the list dead on.
While Mr. Dusterhoft is deceased, estates do still exist after death of a person that receive proceeds.
Probably a good thing that none of you run a business because you would go broke very fast. Why can no one say what a fair percentage markup would be? None of you want to sound stupid when tell you what it would equal? More than likely your figure would be less than what the real markup is, hint.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 3 21
It’s not the markup that’s in question, it’s the fact that every gas station in Grand Forks charges the same. And has for decades. Does that suggest something to you? That it’s not a question of competition, but rather going along to get along?
then maybe you could tell me why in the entire Phoenix Valley gas tends to be within a nickle in price? Come on now the suburbs of Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert have a larger population than the entire state of ND and the price is within a nickle. Why?
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 3 18
The price in Arizona is irrelevant. Even if it were, there isn’t a penny difference in Grand Forks. And why are you posting under a different screen name?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 20 0
It is not irrelevant being that you were comparing prices and I pointed out that even in a larger area there is little difference in price.
Like or Dislike: 1 10
IN GF there is NO difference in price…not a nickle, not a penny
Mad Jack … is that you buddy?
“I refuse to answer on the grounds…”
Like or Dislike: 9 0
Greatday…. no one is answering you because it isn’t black and white. There is no magical fair percentage. Every business is different. My point was as a corporation Simonsons knows what their doing to profit and no one disputes a business being able to make a profit. But why as a corporation are they charging GF more than other stores. Fargo & Bemidji both are paying less?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 22 0
But they are whining that the stations are trying to make a profit. As for Arch charging less in Bemidji and Fargo why not question as to why behind Fargo Gf is always cheaper than the rest of the state? Are they colluding to charge less in GF than the rest? Everytime the Herald runs one of their stupid gas price stories everyone goes bananas. You guys all make great comments that are well thought out on all other topics but this one.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 3 20
Gas was $3.09 in Fargo today. Pulling into GF I saw it was $3.34. I’ve been boycotting Archie Simonson for years and I hope everyone else would.
Gas is even cheaper in Oslo, MN than in GF.
This is called 100% price fixing and GREED.BOYCOTT SIMONSONS STATIONS PEOPLE !!!!!!!!!!!We as the consumer can control the gas prices if we choose to.It is completely ridiculus that the we the locals of this community have to suffer because of our freinds to the north.bombarding our region.And its not only simonsons stations ,have you been in hugos lately?Now theres a company that needs some competition !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They should change their motto from Hugos lows to Hugos Highs.Monopoly,monopoly,monopoly.Wont be long before they get into the gas buisness also.Im just sick and tired of the of the people who live here getting ripped off!!!!!!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 20 2
I would like to know what threats are being made to the other stations by this beast.Is this simonson fella belong to the mafia or is he some kind of modern day mobster? All i know is that he should be extremely ashamed of himself for using his almighty power to push people around.All i know is that MONEY DOESNT MAKE THE MAN !!!!!!!!! University Station and Flying J were suppose to come into town and create some competition and both have failed.All you stations in town dont know how to stand up for what is right and fair.THIS IS NOTHING BUT ONE BIG POWER STRUGGLE AND WANTING FULL CONTROL
Like or Dislike: 16 2
All the stations actually benefit from the lack of competition. It means they get the highest price possible and don’t have to worry about being undercut. So whether Simonson is the culprit or they just all agree, doesn’t make much difference. It’s like the days when the DeBeers cartel ran the diamond market world wide. There was a glut, but they decided how many would be released each year. Hence the markup in jewelry stores over wholesale was 500%. It may still be.
Tell me how can Arch push around all stations who are much larger than he is. He can tell Krogers a multi-billion dollar company what to do (Loaf and Jug)? orton’s who own more stations? Murphy Oil (Sam’s Club)? Flying J which is part of Pilot stations the largest sellers of diesel fuel in the US which provided one of the owners the capital needed the to buy the Cleveland Browns? Cenex though individually owned stations, which by the way owns refineries, and is part of a the multi-billion dollar Central Harvest States (think Land-O-Lakes). Boy one small business owner in GF has that much muscle to tell these guys what to do? They could all drive him out of business in a flash. So now tell me how he can control prices? What about Valley Dairy and all of their stations? Think about this people and then think about how stupid your comments here sound. None of you even know Arch who I do personally and have much respect for. I like the man.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 4 23
People do not like the truth?
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 3 15
The truth, as has been repeated ad infinitum, is that gas prices in Grand Forks are the same among all stations. As I said above, it doesn’t matter whether Simonson is the ringleader, or just a participant, the fact is you could not have stations spread across the city charging the same unless there were collusion going on. It’s one thing to have adjacent stations at the same price, it’s another to have one on Washington and University and another on 32nd. And it really doesn’t matter that “Arch” is your friend. That is not germane to the issue.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 19 1
When there is no benefit to charge more or less than the other guy then what would be the point? You are an educated man Gene so You can not see the logic in this? Selling for even 2 cents less gets you nothing but 2 cents less. No more business but less money in your till. When you are running on a small margin 2 cents adds up real fast. As for their wholesale price to get a good idea what they pay take the price it is tading at, add 40 cents tax to that and then add 3 cents shipping to that and you are close.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 0 12
So when you get right down to it, you are admitting there is collusion, as they all decide to charge the same. That it may be informal and not planned makes no difference; the customer has no option as to what price he will pay.
Pretty obvious you know Archie. You didn’t need to state your an Archie fan.
Since this article was published the gas has dropped a whole 5 cents per gallon.Wow !!!!!!!!! You gas stations are amazing.
If there is not a Gas station cartel in Grand Forks that would be a surprise.
Most if no all the local stations get their gas from the same fuel depot in Grand Forks.
I can see the same price if they had the same mark-up.
The thing I don’t get is Devils Lake and other small towns in North Dakota and Minnesota have cheaper gas than Grand Forks and the gas is being trucked from Grand Forks and I’m sure their delivery cost are higher than the Grand Forks stations.
As for the larger chain stations, most of them run a as high as they can with the local vendors to maximize profits.
Those other towns have lower operating costs also. What are their property tax bills compared to GF? They may get the gas at the same terminal but that does not mean that they pay the same rack rate.
No Gene I am not saying there is collusion. When you post your price on a big sign so everyone can see it you just follow suit. Collusion would require all the stations getting together. So then you are saying that the Fargo stations are in collusion to lose money?
Like or Dislike: 2 8
This is an unwritten no-compete agreement which has been going on for decades. You can define it as not being collusion, but when all the stations maintain the exact same price, AND make the same change in price within hours of each other, they are unofficially telling consumers that they do not have a choice on where to buy based on price.
So all these large companies that sell gas in GF like Holiday who have 35 times as many stations as Simonsons, Kroger aka Loaf and Jug (the multi-billion dollar corporation in Ohio), Pilot aka Flying J (another multi-billion dollar corporation), Orton’s (who have a lot more stations than Simonsons), Cenex (though franchised) part of the multi- billion dollar Central Harvest States, or Murphy Oil (Sam’s Club) all get together to decide how much to charge in GF? Black helicoptors are buzzing all over GF. ALCOA’s stock must go up just on aluminum foil sales alone in GF. Do all the other towns in ND then do the same thing since the same thing occurs in them also? Do you have any idea how stupid you people sound talking like this? Probably not I would guess. Heck never let a good conspiracy theory fly by. WOOOPP WOOOPPP WOOOPP as the helicoptors fly over Merrifield Hall.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 0 10
One word-Monopoly-Did you get that Mr. States Attorney….?
Like or Dislike: 12 1
What monopoly? The Milton Bradley game?
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 0 11
I would like to see WDAZ go out and interview the gas station owners/employees about how they regulate the gas prices.Put them on the hot seat once.You never see the gas station owners in the public eye.They are all cowards.Lets get some answers or lies of why were getting ripped off.
Like or Dislike: 9 1
And you are so brave posted here. Their answer would be when the others stations change their price and out the price on a big sign I change mine. Only in your mind are you getting ripped off. I say your boss is ripping us off now prove he is not. Go ahead make the case he is not. That goes for all of you.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 1 11
And why do they change it? Why not make up in volume what you lose in price? Because that’s not how it works in GF. If Valley Dairy ran a PR campaign declaring they would always undercut every other station, the cars would be lined up. As I said, whether there is formal collusion or not, there is de facto collusion. btw, since you live in AZ, and are not affected by gas prices here, why do make such a big deal defending gas stations…or maybe that’s the reason. Like Jacobs who has no problems with GF taxes going up since he lives in Gilby, you have no skin in the game.
Because your volume would not go up. If VD did what you suggested then everyone would join the race to the bottom. Then no one would make any money. By the way I bought in GF for 35 years. So then everywhere in America is part of this big de facto conspiracy? Why do you never try and argue the points I made? Gene you are no dummy, excpet when it comes to gas prices, and argue against my points regarding how can Arch tell these multi-billion dollar companies what to do? You are almost acting like a Republican like Michelle “Looney Tunes” Bachmann and never answering the question. This is not a “gotcha” moment.
One of the many things that separates Grand Forks from the Twin Cities is the absolute lack of any media investigation. There is no I-Team that ferrets out the stuff that stays in the shadows. This is particularly true of the Herald which, as I’ve complained before, more times than not simply prints press releases without any study of them. Tran touted his degree in Economics from the U of Washington, yet when he had the Alerus beat, never once did he analyze the numbers they put out, he just dutifully ran them. This is what puts the lie to their “peoples paper” claim.
Like or Dislike: 12 2
Come on, Tran did all sorts of analysis, it was just on his blog: http://gfhcitybeat.areavoices.com/
Like or Dislike: 1 0
The media is slanted. Too much power in too few hands. Media consolidation has led to corporate control over our print media, our broadcasting stations, our radio dial, and the internet.
Like or Dislike: 8 1
Now it looks like we have to start talking about milk prices.3.92 agallon for skim.A person can buy a gallon of whole milk in Minneapolis for 2.35.Are North Dakota dairy cows gold plated or what !!!!!Just another Grand Forks rip off scheme.
Like or Dislike: 6 0
The state mandates milk prices, despite the glut of the stuff. One more way to keep farmers from having to be capitalists.
Finally someone else is catching on to this scam? The State Dairy Board sets the minimum at what milk can be sold for. Actually the dairy farmer gets no more money than the one supplying the milk that is sold for $2.35. The bottler is getting the markup.
Like or Dislike: 4 2
See, Jack, I’ve always maintained we agree on just about everything. Maybe we can find a middle ground on the gas question.
Like or Dislike: 3 0
Gene, That is the only thing we do not agree on. If I did not know what I know I would probably be like the rest of you on this.
Like or Dislike: 0 0
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