Australians are paying premium prices for petrol because petrol stations have been working together to rip us off, says a study into fuel prices.
The study, Learning to Coordinate: A Study in Retail Gasoline, jointly conducted by The University of Melbourne and The University of Sydney, analysed 1.7 million petrol prices over 15 years.
It revealed that petrol stations have indeed been colluding to rip us off, boosting prices by 15 to 20 cents per litre on a Thursday, then decreasing prices by two cents per day until the next price rise.
Research revealed that some motorists could be paying up to $135 per year extra if they didn’t fill up on the cheapest day of the week.
University of Melbourne’s Dr David Byrne said that researchers noticed the price-boosting strategy in 2010.
“They were achieving price co-ordination, and making higher profit margins, without speaking (to each other) at all,” he said.
“We found a gradual, slow process where each station started to adhere to the pricing norms. Over time, we started to see margins rise over the entire cycle.
“This tacit collusion softened price competition, resulting in higher profits for all firms involved, and higher prices for consumers.”
The study, undertaken in Perth, was the first of its kind. It noticed that petrol profit margins increased by 700 per cent between 2010 and 2015.
This research underlines the importance for Australian drivers to closely monitor petrol prices to avoid being ripped off at the bowser.
“People need to pay attention to the prices, that’s the one thing you can do,” said Dr Byrne. “Get engaged in the petrol apps like Fuel Watch.”
Do you know which is the cheapest day to fill up your fuel tank?