Australia’s consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), thinks it can save you 10 cents a litre on fuel with a new tool that advises motorists when to fill up.
From today, motorists in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth can use the ACCC website to work out whether or not it’s a good time to refuel.
This is the first time the consumer watchdog has offered buying advice. In each of the mainland state capitals, ACCC analysts will recommend whether to buy or postpone buying fuel, so that motorists can buy closer to the low point of the fuel price cycle.
“We are trying to be more helpful,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims told CarsGuide.
For instance, at the time of publication, the ACCC site claims that petrol prices are decreasing in Brisbane but are likely to decrease further, and recommends that motorists should delay buying petrol until later if possible.
On the other hand, petrol prices in Melbourne are at the lowest point of the price cycle, and the ACCC recommends that now is a good time for motorists to buy petrol.
The ACCC will only try their hand at recommending when motorists should buy petrol, not where. Mr Sims says the latter is simply too difficult to do accurately, and that the price difference between stations is typically only two cents a litre anyway. By way of comparison, the difference between the high and low of a price cycle can be as much as 20 cents a litre.
“Even if you get it half right and save yourself 10 cents a litre, that’s an enormous amount,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC is monitoring petrol prices, but has no ability to control them. The new service is not the same thing as Western Australia’s FuelWatch, which locks in retail prices for 24 hours and names the service stations with the cheapest petrol. (Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd vowed to introduce FuelWatch nationally, but didn’t deliver on this promise.)
The ACCC’s tool makes its recommendations based on figures from Fueltrac. Until June, it was buying pricing data from Informed Sources, but in August the ACCC launched legal action in the Federal Court against Informed Sources, alleging it had been sharing fuel pricing information with major petrol retailers and lessening competition.
Will you use the ACCC’s new tool? Let us know if it saves you any money in the comments below!