PETROL PRICE GOUGE
MELBOURNE OURNE WORST HIT
PETROL retailers are gouging Melbourne drivers up to $120 a year, new data from the nation’s top consumer protection agency reveals.
But a rapidly increasing number of motorists neutralise this, and then some, by using apps that show both when and where prices are lowest in their local area.
Figures obtained by the Herald Sun from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show that in the year to the end of March, the average fuel retail margin in Melbourne was 12 cents per litre.
However, the average price over the past 15 years was only 7.8c/L. That factors in price inflation during that time.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said that to be fair to retailers, 1c/L should be shaved off the gap between the recent margin and the long-run average because they are facing legitimate additional regulatory and compliance costs. These include adding vapour recovery technology to bowsers, altering the range of fuels sold to comply with state government mandates.
But even after making such an allowance, the owner of a Toyota Kluger who fills up once a week is being dudded to the tune of $2.30 a tank.
Mr Sims said the size of retailers’ margins could not be justified on the information available to the ACCC.
In its latest quarterly report, the ACCC finds retailer margins in Melbourne and Perth are the highest on record and continue to be elevated in major cities.
There was a way to fight back though, Mr Sims said.
Phone apps were now revealing when was a good time to buy in the petrol price cycle.
They also showed which stations were offering the lowest prices in a given area.
“We urge motorists to buy at the best times and at the best places,” Mr Sims said.
It was possible to save as much as $15 per tank, he said.
It’s a message that more and more motorists are heeding.
In the final three months of 2015, the major petrol price apps had about four million hits. In the same period of 2016 they had 20 million.
For those uncomfortable with apps, Mr Sims said: “If you just watch the trends on our website, or your local motoring association website, you can save yourself a lot of money.”