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Petrol Prices Over The Phone – “Not Our Policy”, Coles Express

By tylersmayhem - 23 September 2008 28

After reading the news today about the huge jump in global oil prices, I thought I’d call a couple of local petrol stations to inquire what the current price of fuel is to decide which station I’d drop past on the way home from work.  Why would I go to the effort you ask, other than the fact that I am a tightwad when it comes to forking over cash to these monopolizing, unethical bastards?  It’s because I have seen, last week being the most recent example, when fuel was 10 cents cheaper depending which station I dropped past on the way home.

I have called stations before, and the operators have always been willng to assist.  After calling today, I was shocked to hear from Coles “sorry mate, I can’t tell you over the phone”.  “Why not” I asked.  “It’s company policy mate”.  “But I’ve never had any issues doing this in the past, when did this policy come in”.  “Sorry, I can’t tell you that – bye”.

I was shocked, so I called another Coles Express nearby – same answer.  So not only are these petrol companies ripping us off by increasing fuel prices within hours of a raise in oil prices, and then taking weeks to hand down lower fuel prices when oil prices drop – they are removing the ability for us to call up and get a price which is plastered on a board outside their station.  It this anti-consumer or competition or what?!

I know I’m always carrying on about petrol prices and ethics, but can you imagine calling Woolworths and asking for the price of a 1kg tin of Milo (so you can figure out if you have enough poo change lying around to walk down and by one) and being told “sorry, not company policy”?  This prompts me to bring up the suggestion again for RA, and a regular link where we can make note of petrol prices during each day (for those who can be bothered), and updating the prices on RA, so we as consumers, can regain a little control and have a educated choice of where we get our fuel, and pay what price.  If the “Pertrol Commissioner” can do his waste of taxpayers money job – perhaps we need to do something about it.

[ED – nice suggestion and we’ll put it on our list, but as a small shop we’re not exactly short of places we can be directing out efforts.]

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28 Responses to
Petrol Prices Over The Phone – “Not Our Policy”, Coles Express
ifan 12:27 pm 23 Sep 08
bluh 12:15 pm 23 Sep 08

SeanNeko has it right.

I was a console biscuit at a servo for a year and a half. This was the reason cited by management. Not sure if there was anything more sinister behind it, but it made life easier behind the counter.

tylersmayhem 12:04 pm 23 Sep 08

200k’s a week in the car I should say – not on the pushy.

tylersmayhem 12:02 pm 23 Sep 08

@Holden Caulfield: I do this on principal mate – not over $5 per week (in fact it’s a hell of a lot less than that considering I ride a pushy most of the time and average about 200k’s a week). Perhaps if more people acted on principal rather than mindless consumerism the situation would be different.

@JB: I did not suggest for a second that price fixing is the answer. I suggest for consumers to buy a product from the most competitive outlet – petrol included. I’m pretty sure it would show that it encourages competition, rather than works against it. Look t the banks for instance. A the interest rate drops, and there is a battle of the banks to quickly bring their rates down, and to what degree in order to stay competitive. Kinda the same theory I’m basing this on.

Further to this, my sister arrived back from France yesterday after spending extended time over there with family. Relatives could not believe the way our fuel prices fluctuate over here. They have a price in Euro’s per litre ove, and it barely changes regardless of what happens to global Oil prices. They honestly were shocked.

Thumper 11:56 am 23 Sep 08

747 Kevin gave you Petrolwatch.

Be grateful you unwashed swine 😉

harvyk1 11:36 am 23 Sep 08

A few months ago coles express was outed by the fuel commissioner as the worst for price gouging. I expect that their company policy is a direct result of that (as I expect the fuel commission staff simply called up servos rather than drive around)

johnboy 11:26 am 23 Sep 08

If all the prices were the same you’d be screaming about price fixing.

Holden Caulfield 11:24 am 23 Sep 08

Maybe we should get the Civic beggars to send off a few bob to tylers to cover the extra $5 for his/her fuel bill. Oh, better add in an extra $5 to cover the all phone calls as well.

Look, I think fuel companies suck the big one too. But are they any worse than the pharmaceutical companies? Are they any worse than pretty much any retail store? Indeed, are they any worse than our own governments?

I just think there’s a lot of hype over fuel pricing. I agree 10¢ is quite a difference between “competing” service stations, but hey, that’s $5 over a 50 litre fill. Multiply that by 52 weeks and we’re talking $260 spread over the course of the year. Hardly the end of the world is it? Maybe tylers does 1000km a week or something, I don’t know, but for the average 16,000kms-a-year-motorist I reckon we just need to HTFU and enjoy being able to buy petrol at the drop of a hat while we still can.

S4anta 11:00 am 23 Sep 08

May I add that something similar to this Fueal watch WA is about to pushed out country wide. Hang ten.

tylersmayhem 10:51 am 23 Sep 08

Thx Zapruda – and that utility looks good in theory, but when I enter my postcode I get one result: $1.469: Coles Express – 23 Sep at 5:55AM corner Camden Valley Way and Graham Hill Road Narellan 2567. 🙁

Aurelius 10:37 am 23 Sep 08

SeanNeko, “Price changed”. No legal minefield.

Albigeois 10:33 am 23 Sep 08

Some of the servos used to try to pull that when I lived in Melbourne. I used to get around it by just calling the shop next door/across the street and asking them to look out the window!

Worked a treat 😀

seanneko 10:32 am 23 Sep 08

To be fair, and I’m by no means siding with the oil companies/petrol stations here, it’s probably not price gouging.

I imagine that some people would ring up and be told “it’s 150.9c”, but then by the time they arrive it’s gone up to 154.9. Argument and threats of legal action ensue.

captainwhorebags 10:30 am 23 Sep 08

The policy probably has nothing to do with gouging you and more to do with making sure that their attendants are serving the customers, watching the pumps, stocking the shelves etc, instead of answering the phone every 2 minutes because someone wants to know what the price is.

Zapruda 10:25 am 23 Sep 08

Saw this on havent read entire article yet……

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