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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
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rosie_bubz 11:35 am 26 Sep 08

tiny bit of topic, but i fill up in queabeyan, and im sure most of u would know there are 2 bp stations within queanbeyan, located quite close to each other. i filed up at one, and then drove past the 2nd one which was on the way to where i was going. I was so shocked that the 2nd bp was 12/13 cents cheaper!! what a rip

i usually fill up at mobile becaue they aways seem to have the lowest price of normal unleaded

Sleaz274 10:01 pm 23 Sep 08

Slightly off topic but has anyone considered switching over to the higher octane or premium fuels as the price rises as the difference between the normal petrol and premium seems to stay somewhat constant therefore the more you pay the less difference there really is and if the performance is that much better (which I’m not sure about either) then you’d actually be better off. By a whopping 12c every fill up….if you’re lucky.

Can someone follow me on the logic in that? And are the premium quality fuels significantly better…?

bd84 8:26 pm 23 Sep 08

The reason is pretty simple and already stated..
As for the supermarket example, imagine if every pleb rang up their local supermarket wanting to know the exact price of the particular grocery they wanted to purchase. You wouldn’t have a right to complain while waiting in the checkout line, the poor bloke trudging the aisles to find the price of your $2 product would be the one who could have served you. Easy way to get around being short of money is make sure you take a note of a value greater than the estimated value of the product you wish to buy, maybe take 2 just in case!

Holden Caulfield 5:01 pm 23 Sep 08

Oh, I never buy Shell fuel either (can’t remember why, I just don’t). Maybe you will now join me on that front. 😉

Holden Caulfield 4:55 pm 23 Sep 08

tylersmayhem said :

on Saturday, Shell in Fyshwick near Canberra avenue had regular unlimited for 170c. On Sunday it was 148c…

Further to Holden’s comments about saving $5 a week, and based on your observation, the $5 is actually more like $15 a week more expensive (based on a 70 litre fill). Call me a tight wad, or whatever you want really, but $15 a week is what it is. For some families that’s an extra meal. Or if you times it over a year (admittedly not that this is particularly likely to happen every week) you’re talking about $780 over the year. You don’t want that extra $780 per year Holden?!

Lies, lies and damned statistics. We can all skew figures to suit an argument. As you said that 22¢ differential is never going to remain consistent over a 12 month period. Back to your own situation, if you’re only ever doing 200km a week then the magic $780 you came up with is cut rather dramatically. Unless you drive a car that uses 70 litres of fuel to travel 200kms. I didn’t think so.

I bought a new telly the other day and “saved” about $700 off the manufacturer’s published RRP. Swings and roundabouts. I’m guessing you wouldn’t send the saving back to the manufacturer either.

Like I said, I agree with you, the petrol companies are swines. But for the sake of your own health, just let it go, they’re bigger, nastier and more powerful than anything you could ever muster up in protest.

I used to get all fired up about fuel pricing too, but then I did the simple arithmetic and figured the angst I was causing myself wasn’t worth the few bucks it was costing me. Sure, prices have risen dramatically over the last few years, and if I was driving a) a more thirsty car or b) more kilometres it would have greater impact on my personal circumstances. Remember, though, in world terms we’re still paying bugger all for petrol. Moreover, given we’ve supposedly reached peak oil, we’re still able to buy fuel whenever we want without any restriction. Enjoy it while we can.

tylersmayhem 4:31 pm 23 Sep 08

All I’d be asking for is a price “at the time”. What I found most uncool this morning was when asked why they don’t quote prices over the phone, I was told “I cannot tell you that”.

If it was because prices might fluctuate, no worries – I understand. If it’s because you need to be paying 100% attention to customers and your browsers rather that talking to a cheap-skate like me, cool. Don’t be so f**king evasive and people like me won’t immediately refer to recent happening where outlets have been caught monopolizing and doing the wrong thing by customers.

…or, be competitive and not secretive and just quote your prices over the phone so those who can be bothered to try and encourage a little competition, which the rest of you stand to benefit from, can make an informed choice.

vg 4:28 pm 23 Sep 08

Well then its not that hard to answer it and give the price with a caveat that it may change

Davo111 4:02 pm 23 Sep 08

They must have a phone for safety/security reasons.

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