ACCC reveals where you should be buying fuel to save hundreds

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The cost of fuel inflicted the most pain on retirees in the September quarter, according to the YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability Index™, but there’s a way to minimise the pain, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says.

An ACCC report analysed average retail petrol prices in 2018, and compared the prices between high- and low-priced major petrol retailers in the eight Australian capital cities. It then revealed where you should be filling up.

The report found that motorists could save hundreds of dollars a year, simply by heading to low-priced retailers.

“The data reveals that independent chains were the lowest-priced retailers in all eight cities, while Coles Express was the highest-priced retailer in almost all cities,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.

The independent chains with the lowest average prices in 2018 were United in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart; Speedway in Sydney; Liberty in Adelaide; Vibe in Perth, and FuelXpress in Darwin.

In 2018, a motorist in Sydney could have saved around $343 for the year by filling up at the listed independent retailers rather than the highest-priced player. Similar savings would have been about $148 in Melbourne, $229 in Brisbane, $211 in Perth and $159 in Adelaide.

Collectively, the ACCC estimated that savings to motorists from switching from a range of high to low-priced petrol retailers in the five largest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) could have totalled around $275 million in 2018.

“Motorists who want to save money on petrol should use fuel price apps and websites,” Mr Sims said.

“Consumers do not only benefit from the lower prices they find using these apps, but they also help reward retailers who actively compete on price.”

Fuel price websites and apps that provide information to drivers about petrol prices, include the NSW FuelCheck website and app, the Northern Territory MyFuel NT website and app, the WA FuelWatch website, the MotorMouth website and app, and apps operated by GasBuddy, the NRMA and RACQ, 7-Eleven and Woolworths.

The ACCC said consumers should remember that there are minimum standards for regular unleaded petrol (RULP) and that RULP sold by high and low-priced stations often came from the same sources.

In the five largest cities, the range between the highest and lowest-priced major retailer varied from 13.2 cents per litre in Sydney to 5.7 cents per litre in Melbourne. In the three smaller capitals (Canberra, Hobart and Darwin) the range varied from 10.4 cents per litre in Darwin to 2.6 cents per litre in Hobart.

The report also found that the range between the highest and lowest-priced retailers increased from 2017 to 2018 in the five largest cities. It attributed this to bigger movements in the international price of refined petrol in 2018.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg directed the ACCC to monitor the petrol prices, costs and profits in December 2017. It now produces quarterly reports.

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Written by Janelle Ward

37 Comments

Total Comments: 37
  1. 0
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    Now that’s a great help to the bastards from the bush…

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      It used to be said that NSW stood for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, TREBOR, and when it comes to governments looking after all of its citizens that comment seems to have some substance.

  2. 0
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    Never mind shopping around, how about the government doing something about obvious price gouging by these multinational companies and getting an across the board price.
    I was in Sydney a couple of months ago and I went from Epping to Narabeen and Epping was 20 cents a litre cheaper all within an hours time frame. If that isn’t price gouging I don’t know what is.

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      The govt can’t do anything except perhaps ask ACCC to investigate them for uncompetitive behaviour under cartel laws. They are private businesses so they can charge whatever they want.

      It’s the same with household energy prices. How’re the government going with that & their big stick approach?

      And it’s the same with the big banks & the government trying to make them lower interest rates. The lesson is (for anyone with ears to listen) that privatising services means the government can’t then try to interfere with market forces, including jacking up prices & giving away huge bonuses to their CEO’s. Corporation$ overtrump governments every time.

  3. 0
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    I have discount cards for various petrol stations but I prefer to use the Fuel Australia App on my phone for the cheapest fuel. Some of those unmanned stations are a lot cheaper and quite easy once you have worked out how to use them.

  4. 0
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    Oil companies can do whatever they choose and nobody can stop them. Just like banks, oil companies only answer to shareholders, not a government department. Frydenberg is making a political statement which is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.

  5. 0
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    The direct petrol running costs of our cars isn’t as simple as trying to put the cheapest petrol in our tanks whenever we can. Using a spreadsheet to record petrol purchases at each refill from when I bought my present car just over 6 years ago, I am able to objectively monitor the cost per kilometre. Running with the cheaper (lower octane) fuel saves me nothing over filling with the most expensive petrol at the bowser. Over ~76,000km, my car averages 6.4 L/100km giving me an average petrol cost of 10c/km. Putting one tank of 91 octane in it the fuel consumption for that tank went from 6.4 to 7.2 L/100km. (10c/km to 12c/km) There’s more to saving money in running costs than the price on the bowser. Fuel quality does vary quite a bit between brands and locations.

  6. 0
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    I have found that being a Member of various Loyalty Rewards Cards, which cost NOTHING, can give you a very good chance of buying the cheapest fuel prior to your decision of where & when to purchase. I have had times when I got up to 24 cents per litre discount from certain retailers simply by having a discount voucher plus Special Offers which only need activating online.

  7. 0
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    Cheap is good unless you are unlucky enough to fill up with contaminated fuel.

    For 40 years I stayed with BP and never had a problem, but after retiring we looked at where we could save and decided to go for the cheapest servo. We had bought a new car and found the cheapest fuel in Melbourne was as in this article generally at United so switched to them. However after a few months we filled our car with contaminated fuel. Initially there was some speculation that the contamination could have occurred at another service station until we were able to demonstrate through our credit card this was not the case. We had to get fuel examined and there was a significant time we were without a vehicle. No apology from United and our new car needed $5,000 worth of repairs, thank goodness for insurance.

    So cheap is good but I switched back to BP as broken down on the side of the road and then signicant time without a car is not ideal. It could happen at any servo but I will go on my own experiences.
    .

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      This us not an issue confined to United. There have been cases near me linked to big names too. Fortunately these are rare but can happen to anyone anywhere at any time.

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      That could happen at BP too mate, nothing to do with the “cheap” price.

      I’ve driven over 3 million kms for work and private around this country, going to whatever is the cheapest in the area at the time, often little service stations in the bush where it looks like the dirt would be normal in the fuel (it’s everywhere else out there) and have never had a problem with dirty fuel.

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      You are quite correct, RayL. I have only heard of contaminated fuel from low-cost independent suppliers, never from a reputed firm – although one can’t rule out the latter.
      Best to be safe than sorry! With large firms, there is also a better chance of getting some recompense when they fail.

  8. 0
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    Hello Hello ?? Have we teleported to another galaxy ? Why do we need an article to tell us that it is cheaper to buy petrol at lower priced retailers ? This is a question any person that actually has a brain already knows the answer to. I see people filling up at a servo at, say, $1.59 per litre, when 200m down the road is a United or Puma selling the identical stuff at $1.38 per litre. I assume they either have a fuel card for that brand of servo, or they belong to the 60% of Australians who are completely devoid of anything resembling a brain.

    • 0
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      Exactly, you’re right, sometimes it’s the people with their 4 cents off grocery voucher, they’ll go to Coles/Shell to get 4 cents off while the one down the road will be 20 cents less. “But I have a voucher to use”

      I used to collect the vouchers and try to find the cheap price at the Coles/Woolworths stations but have given that up now, always a far cheaper one nearby.

    • 0
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      Totally agree…Puma is always cheaper. However, my nearest Puma is 28kms away, so no saving. I am not going to drive miles using up petrol to buy petrol at a cheaper price.
      In my area, petrol prices at Coles/Woolworths petrol outlets are always 4 cents dearer than other outlets. So I just watch the cycles.

  9. 0
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    More reports on the bleed’n’ obvious! Any driver on the roads goes past independent suppliers and sees the price. The real report should be why don’t more drivers fill up there. Why are they wedded to the brand names? Personally I never fill up at Coles BP because they are regularly 13c more expensive than anyone else. Yes I have a choice, pity those that don’t.

  10. 0
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    KSS – I am not sure defending United was necessary as I noted “It could happen at any servo but I will go on my own experiences”

    • 0
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      What makes you think I was defending anyone RayL? Just pointing out that contaminated fuel is not the sole purview of the independent suppliers.

    • 0
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      KSS – I would have thought my comment “It could happen at any servo but I will go on my own experiences”. made that aspect clear and could not and still can’t see any other reason why you would comment in the manner you did.

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