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The Great Motorway Petrol Price Rip-Off

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  • The Great Motorway Petrol Price Rip-Off

    BP LogoAs a regular traveller up and down the M6/M74, I know very well not to use the various service stations up and down these routes for anything other than a 'comfort break'. Unfortunately, on many of my journeys, I see so many people stop at these places for fuel and/or other items. With petrol prices already high, you could be forgiven for thinking that people will shop around for the best deal, particularly when they're about to set off on a longer journey where they know they're going to go through a reasonable amount.

    To give one example, I normally fill the car up at Sainsbury's in Bolton on the morning of my journey. When filling up the other day, the price had risen to 113.9p per litre (has been pegged at 110.9p/111.9p recently). On my way through Dumfries & Galloway on the M74, I decided to stop at the Annandale Water services near Johnstonebridge. These services use BP who have an unleaded price of 123.9p per litre - a 10p per litre (or £5.50-£6 a tank for a standard sized family car) difference! Which begs the question, why stop there for petrol?! Modern SatNav systems highlight and can direct you to stations that are just off the motorway and are significantly cheaper. Indeed, sites like petrolprices.com can tell you the range of prices within a given area, making planning or 'on the fly' needs for fuel cheaper.

    This also brings up the question - why do retailers charge such wildly different prices around the country? Simple - supply and demand. On motorways, these companies are relying on the motorist taking the easy option - stopping there rather than finding a cheaper station. They have essentially a captive market. Some BP stations in towns though have found that they can't keep charging what they wish. After the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP's prices all seemed to increase by 2-3p per litre in towns. Unfortunately for them, a lot of these forecourts started to empty as people cottoned onto the fact that they were getting ripped off for BP/BP's Contractor's errors. As such, many have had to reduce their prices or advertise 'offers' to bring their prices in line with other stations in the area.

    So, if it can be done in towns, why can't it be done on the motorways? Until people start thinking ahead and planning their journeys or using their SatNavs for more than just directions to the end destination, nothing will happen to these rip-off prices and companies will continue to benefit from drivers' general laziness to shop around.
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    • The Great Motorway Petrol Price Rip-Off
      by Trevor Hannant
      As a regular traveller up and down the M6/M74, I know very well not to use the various service stations up and down these routes for anything other than a 'comfort break'. Unfortunately, on many of my journeys, I see so many people stop at these places for fuel and/or other items. With petrol prices already high, you could be forgiven for thinking that people will shop around for the best deal, particularly when they're about to set off on a longer journey where they know they're going to go through...
      15-10-2010, 12:54 PM
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