PAIN AT THE PUMP
The price of petrol in Whangamata has riled up some residents
Is Whangamata¯ paying too much for gas?
The price of petrol at the town’s only place to fuel up has got residents talking, and the national advertising campaign by petrol company Z is adding fuel to the fire.
“What is the justification for Whangamata¯ pretty much being charged what is charged in the South Island? It’s out of control,” says resident Peter Forward. “We’ve got a lot of elderly folk here and we just want a fair go.
“The last I saw, diesel was $1.75 in Whangamata¯ , and I’ve just come from Kopu where it’s $1.41, Thames $1.40 and Hikuai $1.35.
Most Whangamata¯ people are thinking ‘we’re getting ripped off here’.”
Peter uses mobile app Gaspy to check prices on fuel around the Coromandel and New Zealand, and says competition in other places ensures prices are kept reasonable. On Monday, a litre of 91 was $2.13 in Hikuai and $2.29 in Whangamata¯ .
The Whangamata¯ Z station’s owner referred Coastal News to the Z corporate head office for comment, saying prices were dictated by the “head honchos” in Wellington.
Z Spokeswoman Sheena Thomas confirmed this was the case, saying prices were set based on international oil prices, the exchange rate and local competition.
“It is the types of local competition, the types of sites we compete against and what our customers want most that all contribute to differing petrol prices,” she says.
Blair Williams owns five Subway franchises including in Nga¯ tea, Paeroa and Whangamata¯ , and he regularly travels to and from O¯ hakune in the middle of the North Island. He fuels up out of town as he says the price in Whangamata¯ is by far the highest out of these areas.
He believes consumers should be aware that even if they choose to vote with their tyres, they will be getting charged whether they drive into the local gas station or not.
“The flow-on is every contractor — lawn mowers, tree trimmers, road works etc — must pass this cost on to us their customers.”
However Ms Thomas says about a third of Z’s sites across the country currently have the same price as Whangamata¯ .
This changes too, as sometimes Whangamata¯ is noticeably cheaper than other places.
She said competition is more intense than it has ever been.
“We understand the impact this has on people and businesses, and we don’t like it either. Even from a purely commercial perspective, we see less volume when prices are high, so it is not in our interest to artificially keep prices high — not that this would even be possible, given the competitiveness of the market.”
Aucklanders are charged a 10 cent per litre (exclusive of GST) regional fuel tax to help fund some of the super city’s infrastructure.
This tax came into effect on 1 July and applies on all grades of petrol and diesel purchased within the region.
However, on the day that the Coastal News did a comparison, the price of 91 unleaded in Green Lane Auckland was $2.36 compared to $2.33 in Whangamata¯ , which does not fall within the boundaries for the 10c fuel tax.
“Service stations are competing harder than ever, at a hyper-local level, for customers,” Mrs Thomas said.
“We compete on service, on what we offer in store, on convenience, on loyalty offers and discount schemes, as well as on the price you see on the price board.
“In some areas price is what matters most to customers and that is where we need to focus most. In other areas speed and service may be what customers want most. At the end of the day, this is a high cost, low-margin business. Z’s net profit after tax on every litre of fuel sold is between 4 to 6 cents per litre.”