Faulconbridge independent petrol retailer Andrew Iconomou is looking forward to September 1.
That’s when the NSW Government’s new fuel rules come into force and all petrol outlets will have to display their full fuel prices on their outdoor petrol signage.
Big fines have been threatened for those who don’t comply — $22,000 for an individual and $110,000 for companies under NSW Fair Trading rules.
Mr Iconomou, the co-owner of Budget Petrol Fuel-Mart on the Great Western Highway at the Faulconbridge shops, says it can’t come soon enough. He has been compliant for 20 years and finds those big retailers offering cheap petrol shopper dockets with their groceries “misleading”.
“It is a misleading thing for the public the way they show the pricing because when you are driving it’s a glance and you don’t have time to analyse and then you don’t have the docket and you think I’ve pulled over I’m not going to stop again,” he said.
NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts joined Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage MP and Fair Trading inspectors at the Budget Petrol Fuel-Mart last Wednesday to inspect the petrol price boards and discuss the changes to petrol signage.
Mr Roberts said all NSW petrol station price boards will also have to display prices for the top two selling fuels for that station in the previous six months, as well as the price for diesel and LPG.
“This is all about openness and transparency,” he said. “Companies like Woolies and Coles see the discounting price as an important part of their marketing we don’t, we see it as misleading and surveys we’ve done and Fair Trading has done show 90 per cent of people find it misleading.”
“My message to those big corporations is the banquet is over,” he added. “The price displayed on those boards has to be the price per litre that is available to everyone — the normal price without any discounts or special offers,” Mr Roberts said.
The minister says it’s a bonus for Mountains motorists as NRMA studies show where there is petrol signage you have got more competition.
“This will place downward pressure on pricing. Consumers will be able to decide where to buy their fuel based on the real price available to everyone.”
Service stations will still be able to display available discounts, but cannot incorporate those discounts into the prices listed on the boards.
Stations will also be required to display the octane rating of E10 petrol and regular and premium unleaded petrols on the petrol pump.
Mrs Sage says she never uses shopper docket fuel discount deals, adding this scheme will make it “fairer at the pump”.
“By introducing a NSW standard, motorists are made aware of the prices on offer long before they pull up to the pump, handing them the power to pick and choose which retailer to use,” Mrs Sage said.
Last week the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims savaged supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles for using steep petrol discounts —which this month offered as much as 45¢ per litre off the bowser price —and its long-term impact on competition.
The supermarket chains insist their fuel offers help families balance the weekly budget, while saying the ACCC’s public pronouncements could be more about placating interest groups.
A Woolworths spokeswoman said its petrol discounts were popular with customers who valued fuel savings. “Petrol is a significant part of the family budget and many of our customers find these discounts helpful in managing their weekly expenses,’’ she said.
And a Coles spokesman said: “Fuel dockets reduce the cost of motoring for millions of Australians and, along with the $1 billion a year we are saving customers through lower grocery prices, [are] helping hard-working families deal with the rising cost of living.”