Thanks to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACC), motorists can find the cheapest petrol nearby in real time.
Many motorists will welcome this information, especially now oil prices are at an 11-year low. But petrol profit margins, around 15.1 cents a litre, are higher than ever. Petrol prices vary considerably between cities and regional centres and within cities too.
Until now, only retailers and their price provider, Informed Sources, could get prices within 15-30 minutes of changes.
The ACCC case
The ACCC accused five petrol retailers – BP Australia, Caltex Australia, Coles Express, Woolworths and 7-Eleven – and Informed Sources of sharing petrol price information for price fixing. It took them to the Federal Court for breach of collusion and cartel provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act.
It did not hear the case. Coles Express said it would not participate in the network when its contract with Informed Sources expires, and stay out for five years. The others made an agreement with the ACC during arbitration.
BP, Caltex, Woolworths, and 7-Eleven agreed not to use pricing information unless they share it free of charge with consumers.
Access to database
Meanwhile, motoring groups, research firms and mobile app developers can pay for access to the complete Informed Sources database. ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said the regulator and motoring groups had been wanting this kind of information for a long time. He says:
“Consumers will have the information to shop and get the best deal, that will improve competition on the ground”.