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The Canberra petrol ripoff

By 20 February 2012 32

The Canberra Times is having a screech about Canberra petrol prices being much higher than the rest of the country.

The price of unleaded fuel reached a high of 149.9c per litre yesterday, 10c higher than in Sydney and almost 20c dearer than Melbourne.

Canberra also had the second-highest minimum price in the country, with its cheapest bowser hitting 141.9c behind Brisbane’s 142.9c.

They ponder the reason why but it seems simple enough.

The petrol companies are colluding bastards and we can afford to pay more.

Although I will smugly note that as a cycling-to-work-inner-northican I last filled my mighty 4 litre engined car 3 weeks ago and reckon I can make a few more weekly trips to Aldi before the price of petrol will be of any concern to me whatsoever.

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32 Responses to
The Canberra petrol ripoff
Tony 10:29 am
20 Feb 12
#1

Last weekend I drive to Merimbula on the south coast. Before leaving (on Wednesday) I filled up at 1.49. When I got there they were advertising at $1.45. Both prices were the post 4c/lt shopper docket discount prices
This was the same company (woolies petrol).
The whole shopper docket thing is a scam, and I’m sick of it.
As such, I’m thinking of converting my old Hyundai Excel to electric. Its only got to get me 30km per day on a charge, so I think its doable :)

Grail 10:40 am
20 Feb 12
#2

You could always drive to Yass or Queanbeyan to fill up. I’m not sure that you’ll save enough on a tank load to make it worth the trip, but the option is there. Alternately you could buy a petrol station and set the price yourself.

Holden Caulfield 10:52 am
20 Feb 12
#3

High wages, high prices.

For ease of calculation let’s assume one’s car averages 50l of fuel per week, that equates to $75 per fill at $1.50/litre or $3900pa.

$1.50 x 50 = $75.00 ($3900pa)
$1.45 x 50 = $72.50
$1.40 x 50 = $70.00
$1.35 x 50 = $67.50
$1.30 x 50 = $65.00 ($3380pa)

So a 20¢ saving over a 52 week period saves you $520. That’s not to be sneezed at, sure, but if you’re really quibbling over $10 a week you probably should be riding a bike and not running a car.

I don’t like paying more for fuel than I need to, either, but it’s the asylum seeker of retail. Far too much coverage and bluster over something that’s really not that big a deal.

dpm 10:53 am
20 Feb 12
#4

I hate to start down this path on a thread (no pun intended), but I have to say, getting off my butt and riding to work 3 times a week (~100km in total) does more for my petrol-related finances (and health) than even a 20c/L petrol price drop would! Now, I understand not eveyone is in a position to have this option, but if you do, it’s worth considering. Though I wonder how my resolve will be in winter! Hahaha :-)

Deref 11:15 am
20 Feb 12
#5

“The petrol companies are colluding bastards and we can afford to pay more.”

That.

Well, that and the fact that all our governments couldn’t give a f***.

chewy14 11:20 am
20 Feb 12
#6

dpm said :

I hate to start down this path on a thread (no pun intended), but I have to say, getting off my butt and riding to work 3 times a week (~100km in total) does more for my petrol-related finances (and health) than even a 20c/L petrol price drop would! Now, I understand not eveyone is in a position to have this option, but if you do, it’s worth considering. Though I wonder how my resolve will be in winter! Hahaha :-)

Better off on a motorbike, quicker and much more fun.

steveu 11:21 am
20 Feb 12
#7

I guess when you have woolies/caltex and coles/shell controlling the food and petrol around the place, with “discount voucher” systems telling them when we have money in our spocket to spend, we can expect nothing less than having the price of petrol set at what the market is willing to bear.

Best thing we can do to combat this is find ways of not using petrol and reduce the demand on supply.

Jethro 11:37 am
20 Feb 12
#8

dpm said :

I hate to start down this path on a thread (no pun intended), but I have to say, getting off my butt and riding to work 3 times a week (~100km in total) does more for my petrol-related finances (and health) than even a 20c/L petrol price drop would! Now, I understand not eveyone is in a position to have this option, but if you do, it’s worth considering. Though I wonder how my resolve will be in winter! Hahaha :-)

Agreed. Switching to a bike at the end of winter last year for my thrice weekly commute to work was the best thing I ever did, in terms of my finances and health.

Although, I too am wondering how motivated I will be to do the 19km ride at 7:00am in the depths of winter.

EvanJames 12:18 pm
20 Feb 12
#9

Grail said :

You could always drive to Yass or Queanbeyan to fill up… Alternately

Qbn is cheaper no longer. The Mobil in Yass Rd used to do competitive pricing, but now it’s a BP, it charges crazy prices (the ULP price they display is for ethanol crap) as-does the one opposite Fast Food Alley. The woolies one in town also seems a tad high. Cheapest petrol in the area is either Majura Rd, or Fyshwick. I miss the days when they’d cycle the prices through the week,so if you bought just before the usual Thursday pay-day price hike, you did quite well.

And “alternately” should be “alternatively” in this context. Alternately is a form of Alternate, either-or this-that one-two. Alternatively means a different way and is not limited.

AnimosiTy 12:25 pm
20 Feb 12
#10

it sux, but on that note I can’t see charging up an electric car to be any cheaper in the long run.. I’m sure actew would be just as happy to charge us more money too..
and still carbon foot print from using electricity?!

AnimosiTy 12:28 pm
20 Feb 12
#11

motor bikes arn’t cheap to service or to buy tyres for or to register or insure… and id rather be cut out of my car than cleaned up off the road thankyou!!!
oh and motorbikes like premium gas!!!

devils_advocate 12:33 pm
20 Feb 12
#12

Jethro said :

Although, I too am wondering how motivated I will be to do the 19km ride at 7:00am in the depths of winter.

The wind chill is what gets ya, I reckon. No matter how good gloves you get it seems the icy wind just cuts through them. And even wrapping a scarf around the face doesn’t help that much.

devils_advocate 12:34 pm
20 Feb 12
#13

steveu said :

Best thing we can do to combat this is find ways of not using petrol and reduce the demand on supply.

on mythbusters, they showed (IIRC) that slipstreaming behind a van at a distance of 10 meters or less can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 60 per cent.

However based on the way most canberrans drive, I think everyone is already onto this trick.

Pork Hunt 1:01 pm
20 Feb 12
#14

The price of fuel doesn’t worry me at all, I always put in $20 worth…

The_TaxMan 1:15 pm
20 Feb 12
#15

Petrol in Erindale 7/11 146.9 for E10 petrol at Braddon 7/11 140.9. The gumbyment has no input into this type of pricing, it comes down to the owners and in this case all 7/11 servos in Canberra are owned by the same company which is Mufti Pty Ltd. In Erindale there is no obvious competition whilst in Braddon there is another servo accross the road forcing competition. You can only blame the Gov’t so often but it is clear that there certainly is a lot more than the 1cent per litre profit the Service Station Owners Association has been banging on about for years, especially when Coles and Woolies can in some instance offer up to 20cents per litre discount. And I’m sorry but ‘shopper dockets’ don’t cut it, no-one sells a product at a loss constantly of 3% and up to 15% per litre it is simply unsustainable no matter how much profit they made on groceries.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:26 pm
20 Feb 12
#16

I’m quite happy to pour 98 octane ultra premium down the throat of my beast while petrol is still cheap and plentiful. There’ll be plenty of time when I’m to go slowly…

BethiePrice 2:32 pm
20 Feb 12
#17

Grail said :

You could always drive to Yass or Queanbeyan to fill up. I’m not sure that you’ll save enough on a tank load to make it worth the trip, but the option is there.

I wouldn’t recommend that either, Queanbeyan prices are just the same as Canberra’s. And they jack them up every weekend too. I guess they think that they’re one of the last towns to fill up in cheaper then “country” towns on the way to the coast. the petrol station in Braddon used to be the cheapest anywhere until they changed hands.

buzz819 2:33 pm
20 Feb 12
#18

The_TaxMan said :

Petrol in Erindale 7/11 146.9 for E10 petrol at Braddon 7/11 140.9. The gumbyment has no input into this type of pricing, it comes down to the owners and in this case all 7/11 servos in Canberra are owned by the same company which is Mufti Pty Ltd. In Erindale there is no obvious competition whilst in Braddon there is another servo accross the road forcing competition. You can only blame the Gov’t so often but it is clear that there certainly is a lot more than the 1cent per litre profit the Service Station Owners Association has been banging on about for years, especially when Coles and Woolies can in some instance offer up to 20cents per litre discount. And I’m sorry but ‘shopper dockets’ don’t cut it, no-one sells a product at a loss constantly of 3% and up to 15% per litre it is simply unsustainable no matter how much profit they made on groceries.

Shhh… I wasn’t going to bring up that the for servo’s in Braddon were always 6 – 10c cheaper then anywhere else in Canberra, beside of course the Shell in Greenway, it normally does a fairly cheap petrol price.

buzz819 2:34 pm
20 Feb 12
#19

Sorry, “for” in my last post should have been “four”…

madamcholet 2:37 pm
20 Feb 12
#20

I have noticed for a long time the large difference between individual servo’s that seem to be part of the same conglomorate. For example, Erindale Woolies is cheaper than Calwell Woolies – about 2 or 3km away. Someone on the radio today suggested it was just market forces, which sort of makes sense in that if you go i nto a Woolies at Mosman NSW, i.e. with more cashed up shoppers buying different items to those in Cambeltown, you will see popular products priced differently. On the other hand, Canberra is so small in terms of distances that it shouldn’t really make a difference.

The Gov ain’t gonna have an effect on this…ever, regalrdless of what they promise – and what did happen to Fuel Watch btw?. So you need to think about what other things you can do. Buy a smaller car, ride a bike, buy a scooter, take the bus.

We have a very economical VW diesel which costs us $80 every fortnight – gets nearly 900k’s to a 52L tank on town driving and over 1000 if on the freeway. It’s also on a novated lease so whilst we do pay in advance as part of the overall loan, we don’t have to find it out of weekly money – which really helps..

arescarti42 3:07 pm
20 Feb 12
#21

I made the following graph the last time this topic came up on RA.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3827353/poprice.jpg

It basically plots the population of Australian cities against the price of petrol in each city (at the point in time i made the graph). My suspicion is that cities with large populations and more petrol stations have greater competition than smaller cities. Of course correlation need not imply causation.

In the bigger scheme of things, I believe the intrinsic value of a litre of petrol is many multiples of $1.5.

NoImRight 3:15 pm
20 Feb 12
#22

AnimosiTy said :

motor bikes arn’t cheap to service or to buy tyres for or to register or insure… and id rather be cut out of my car than cleaned up off the road thankyou!!!
oh and motorbikes like premium gas!!!

Meant well but you got most of this wrong. Almost any bike is cheaper to service than almost any car. Tyres arent cheap but you only need two. Rego depends on capacity but if you only want a commuter it wont be much,plus tyres will be cheap on that sort of bike too. Some bikes need premium but most dont. “Gas”? Shudder….

astrojax 3:37 pm
20 Feb 12
#23

dpm said :

I hate to start down this path on a thread (no pun intended), but I have to say, getting off my butt and riding to work 3 times a week (~100km in total) does more for my petrol-related finances (and health) than even a 20c/L petrol price drop would! Now, I understand not eveyone is in a position to have this option, but if you do, it’s worth considering. Though I wonder how my resolve will be in winter! Hahaha :-)

the cycling option is its own reward – sadly not an option when you need to ferry others, incl small ones and ones with small ones on the way, to their daily activities, too…

and no-one has ever satisfactorily explained to me the ‘price cycle’ regarding petrol pricing – what the effr is it and why is it required? and so why isn’t there a milk price cycle, or an egg price cycle, etc..??? anyone want to have a go at making sense of this anomoly?

carnardly 4:08 pm
20 Feb 12
#24

dpm and Jethro – you can do it. A good set of thermals (ie long sleeve top and longjohns) and a windproof outer layer and you’ll be fine. There are plenty of shops around that sell that stuff and some doesn’t even look like bike gear. Mont, Ground Effect, etc.

damien haas 4:16 pm
20 Feb 12
#25

devils_advocate said :

Jethro said :

Although, I too am wondering how motivated I will be to do the 19km ride at 7:00am in the depths of winter.

The wind chill is what gets ya, I reckon. No matter how good gloves you get it seems the icy wind just cuts through them. And even wrapping a scarf around the face doesn’t help that much.

You need to drink two bottles of iced coffee and then you will have these: http://www.bikehacks.com/bikehacks/2012/02/milk-carton-bike-moose-mitts.html

cranky 4:19 pm
20 Feb 12
#26

I suspect the ownership of the oil refineries, and their market prices, have an enormous influence on the ability of independent operators to source fuel at reasonable cost.

The owners of the Farrer servo advised, on their closing, that they were unable to purchase, at the time, fuel at the price the majors were selling it. Another closure, less competition, and we now have the rip-off.

watto23 4:47 pm
20 Feb 12
#27

I knid of gave up caring. I could not bother spending an extra 10 to 15 minutes looking to save 2 to 3 c a litre. IMO driving a fuel economic car, or no car is a bigger saving than cheaper petrol.

The 7/11 at Erindale is often the same price as the discounted Woolies Erindale. Shell in Greenway is rarely that much cheaper, for the sake of 1 or 2 c a litre I’ll just go to the more convenient servo.

20c a litre would save me $500 a year, but I could also cut out buying lunches, or coffee or so many other things to save money also. I think most people could and I’m guessing they know that in Canberra, most people have the ability to make a choice regarding spending.

AsparagusSyndrome 1:25 am
21 Feb 12
#28

arescarti42 said :

I made the following graph the last time this topic came up on RA.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3827353/poprice.jpg

It basically plots the population of Australian cities against the price of petrol in each city (at the point in time i made the graph). My suspicion is that cities with large populations and more petrol stations have greater competition than smaller cities. Of course correlation need not imply causation.

In the bigger scheme of things, I believe the intrinsic value of a litre of petrol is many multiples of $1.5.

I agree with most of what you say here. I think if you remove the curve line from your graph, and just leave the data points, they appear to tell a different story to what the (arbitrarily chosen) curve suggests. They show two distinct populations of Australian cities – one lot that appears to obey the rule you suggest, and an outlying group of smaller towns with more extreme price dynamics – this suggests (but is insufficient to prove) that, in those towns, competition may be largely or completely absent. It would be interesting to plot petrol price against diversity of outlets (per sq. km or per 10,000 people) to confirm why some of Australia’s smaller towns have cheaper fuel than Canberra.

konazz 8:49 am
21 Feb 12
#29

I too have found Braddon (1 x Mobil 7/11; 1 x BP; 1x Shell; 1x Caltex) by far the cheapest compared to Belconnen (2 x Shell and 1 x Caltex) and Kippax (1 x Mobil 7/11 and 1 x Caltex) on my way home – up to 10c difference on some days.

Seems the more competition in the area (only 2-3 blocks in braddon), and the fact that there are 2 non-supermarket stations = win(also I can get a slurpy at 7/11).

I love the analogy of Petrol Prices are the Asylum Seekers of retail. How true! You can save soooo much more by shopping smarter, than a 4c discount. Hell, I’ll even pay more for fruit and veg and meat at EPIC Markets, as its not the crap Woolies sell

Jivrashia 11:06 am
21 Feb 12
#30

astrojax said :

and no-one has ever satisfactorily explained to me the ‘price cycle’ regarding petrol pricing – what the effr is it and why is it required?

There’s no mystery about it. It is also called “price gouging”. In Canberra the cycle revolves around APS’s pay day. Price jumps about 10cents during Thursday afternoon when APSs get paid (fortnightly cycle).
Petroleum companies try to justify this by saying that there are days when prices are cheaper, but that is the case because it’s inconvenient for people to fill up on those days.

Governments are unable to stop this form of price gouging, because they practice it themselves (e.g. NSW City Rail)

astrojax said :

and so why isn’t there a milk price cycle, or an egg price cycle, etc..???

But there are… Maybe not on milk or egg but there is constant price fluctuation in all other food item in the supermarket.

The petrol companies are colluding bastards
That has yet to be proven johnboy. All I know is that the last whistle blower to dob them to ACCC mysteriously disappeared…

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