Self-im­posed fuel ‘tax’

The Tribune (NZ) - - CLASSIFIEDS - ROB STOCK MONEY MAT­TERS rob.stock@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

This is a guide on how NOT to use a petrol sta­tion.

A lot’s been said in re­cent weeks about petrol prices, and how hard fuel taxes are go­ing to hit fam­i­lies’ wal­lets.

Peo­ple hate to buy petrol, pour­ing their hard-earned money into the tank to burn. It must be New Zealand’s num­ber one grudge pur­chase.

But many of us are mag­ni­fy­ing the toll petrol takes on our fi­nances through our own dumb use of petrol sta­tions.

The 2017 Mon­i­tor of Fuel Con­sumer At­ti­tudes from the Aus­tralian Con­ve­nience and Pe­tro­leum Mar­keters As­so­ci­a­tion tells a story that’s clearly repli­cated in New Zealand.

It found one in five peo­ple who bought fuel usu­ally bought a snack, drink, or other prod­uct from the petrol sta­tion con­ve­nience store at the same time.

Con­ve­nience is one of those code words in re­tail.

When you see it, you know you are go­ing to be asked to pay too much for some­thing you can get cheaper else­where.

Of­ten con­ve­nience is also

as­so­ci­ated with prod­ucts that are bad for you like su­gar-laden soft drinks, pies and muffins, choco­late and lol­lies, and cof­fee.

All this adds up to some peo­ple ef­fec­tively in­creas­ing the cost of re­fu­elling their cars.

Younger peo­ple (who have yet to face up to the re­al­ity of the life­time cost of frit­tered money) are more likely to give them­selves per­mis­sion to make th­ese pur­chases.

Older peo­ple (who have to make what money they have last) are less likely to make any pur­chases at petrol fore­court con­ve­nience stores.

The young are us­ing petrol sta­tions badly. The old are us­ing them sen­si­bly.

When it last sur­veyed Aus­tralians, the as­so­ci­a­tion con­cluded 70 per cent of peo­ple had only ‘‘medium’’ or ‘‘low’’ sen­si­tiv­ity to petrol prices, the as­so­ci­a­tion found.

And, it said: ‘‘Few motorists would travel out of their way for a cheaper fuel price.’’

Those who would were largely older peo­ple, and poorer peo­ple.

I un­der­stand peo­ple not

‘‘The young are us­ing petrol sta­tions badly. The old are us­ing them sen­si­bly.’’

in­vest­ing their time in driv­ing to get lower prices.

Time is pre­cious. Lives are busy. Traf­fic in Auck­land is ter­ri­ble.

I cy­cle to work (roughly 7km) and drive (my wife’s car) only one day a week to take my kids to danc­ing and swim­ming.

That makes me one of the for­tu­nate few in a city where the car dom­i­nates.

The fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive is pretty low too drive too far out of my way to save 8 cents a litre.

That was roughly the dif­fer­ence be­tween the av­er­age prices charged over a 24-hour pe­riod on Mon­day for 91 petrol by the most ex­pen­sive, and the cheap­est, of the ri­val petrol sta­tion chains.

There’s wide­spread sus­pi­cion that com­pe­ti­tion in the petrol mar­ket is ex­tremely weak.

As long as petrol re­tail­ers keep their prices in a nar­row­ish band, the in­cen­tive to shop around is weak.

Weak com­pe­ti­tion usu­ally means un­su­ally high prices.

It’s one more rea­son to live near your work, make more jour­neys by bike, and to never, never, suc­cumb to the petrol sta­tions’ lure of con­ve­nience food and drinks.

SUP­PLIED

There goes another $80 to be burnt.

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