Monday, May 14, 2018

Headline: ACCC says Coles Express petrol most expensive - quite misleading

Today's headlines stating "ACCC says Coles Express petrol most expensive" for a lot of people may be very misleading.

For a long time I've considered and found the local Coles Express to be one of the more expensive fuel outlets. It would be rare for us to buy petrol there anymore. Previously we mostly bought our petrol either at the local Coles Express, another in Doncaster East, or the Woolworths Petrol in Eltham. However, since creating Petrol Prices Melbourne which meant reviewing petrol prices in the area over an extended period of time, we found there were better places to purchase petrol.

At first glance this would appear to support the ACCC finding. However, we shop at Coles and one thing we do get like millions of other Australians is a discount voucher. By using the discount voucher the Coles Express outlets usually match or better the local 7 Eleven on United Petroleum outlets. Both 7 Eleven and United Petrol are usually prices around 3 cents a litre less. I suspect this pricing aims to largely negate the benefit of a discount voucher, but in the end it really means prices aren't significantly different.

If you read the ACCC report for Victoria you'll find Coles Express average price is 2.4 cents above the market average whereas the cheapest petrol is around 1 cent per litre below the market average. Put simply this means the difference is 3.4 cents and if you have a Coles petrol discount voucher at worst, on average, you'll be paying slightly less than the fuel outlets that do not provide a discount voucher.

So the attention grabbing headlines should probably read, "ACCC says Coles Express petrol most expensive, but with a discount voucher, one of the cheapest".

We use a number of strategies for buying petrol. Rather than buying near where we live, we often identify petrol stations selling cheaper petrol that we'll be driving past. Buying at the bottom of the petrol price cycle, locking in the price of petrol from 7 Eleven for an additional week, using discount vouchers at Woolworths Petrol and Coles Express. This approach saves us hundreds of dollars a year. Buying from the nearest local petrol station is generally the surest way to pay the most for petrol.

The ACCC is right in saying Coles Express petrol is the most expensive, but only for those not using discount vouchers. Those buying petrol from Coles Express and not using discount vouchers may be paying hundreds of dollars more a year for their petrol.

For more information on saving money when buying petrol visit www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

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