PAIN AT THE PUMP

The price of petrol in Whanga­mata has riled up some res­i­dents

Coastal News - - Front Page - By ALI­SON SMITH [email protected]­news.co.nz

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.”

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