PRA condemns "two-tier" petrol pricing
"Motorway Service Areas owned or supplied by major oil companies continue to extort their customers by pricing fuel much higher than at their standard company-owned sites" said Brian Madderson, Petrol Retailers' Association (PRA) Chairman.
Recent data produced by Experian Catalist showed that Shell brand petrol purchased at a Motorway Service Area was 14 pence per litre (ppl) more expensive than Shell brand petrol purchased at one of their standard sites. Diesel was as much as 12ppl more. The gap between prices for Esso brand fuel was very similar.
Madderson continued “Two tier pricing was just one of the many areas for concern raised by independent fuel retailers to the Office of Fair Trading, during their recent “call for information”, which indicated that the UK fuels market was not working properly.
“It is essential that the OFT respond to the many complaints by confirming that they will undertake a new Market Study under the Enterprise Act 2002 when they present their findings in January 2013.”
Given public concern about fuel pricing, Madderson said “It is good to note that our independent retailers have helped to lead fuel prices down this week with several reporting that they had dropped prices below local supermarket competition.
“This was confirmed by the closeness of UK average fuel prices for independently owned sites being just 2ppl adrift from the average for supermarkets at the beginning of this week. This has prompted another round of price cutting by the supermarkets.
“However, the UK wholesale market for road fuels remains volatile and petrol costs rose again by over 1.2ppl on Tuesday night so this trend in falling prices is not guaranteed to continue.
“Therefore the Government’s plans for hiking fuel duty by 3.02ppl on 1 January 2013 with the prospect of a further 2.00ppl on 1 April are potentially crippling to household budgets.
“With 20 per cent VAT added, total fuel tax could rise by as much as 7.00ppl in the first few months of 2013. To have any chance of re-igniting the economy, the Chancellor must freeze duty when he presents the Autumn Statement next month.”