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Getting the best price at the pump

As motorists hit the roads this holiday season, the Commerce Commission is urging Kiwis to “kick the tyres” on fuel loyalty schemes and look at the advertised fuel price first.

Commission chair John Small said loyalty schemes can offer some savings but most consumers will get better value for money if they look for the lowest actual price in their area on the day.

The Commission has modelled different discounting programmes to compare value and show how a consumer would need to behave to get the most savings.

The results show that motorists would need to go to specific petrol stations on certain days and have spent over a certain amount at other shops to have earned enough points to get the full discount.

“Loyalty schemes can require complicated patterns of behaviour to get the maximum savings,” Small said.

“When shopping around for the best price, motorists are often better off simply choosing the petrol station with the lowest board price or the site with a one-off ‘discount day’, rather than counting on a complicated loyalty scheme.”

Automobile Association [AA] Wairarapa chair Craig Bowyer said road users should be using every tool available to them to cut the cost of filling their tanks and recommends apps like Gaspy, which shows the cheapest fuel prices in your area based on your location.

“In the holiday period, this is another one of those costs that will add up.

“Any money you can save, you’ve got to do it,” Bowyer said.

“Never go out of your way to make a purchase; find the cheapest place near you.”

The AA, Countdown, and BP collaboration for cents off at the pump is being wound down, but Bowyer confirmed there will be a new programme coming in its place.

“The AA will come out with another programme that will help enhance the rewards to our members,” he said.

At the time of print, the cheapest fuel in Masterton was listed at Pak‘nSave and Waitomo at $2.67 per litre, with the most expensive being $2.74 at Mobil Western Auto Mart, according to Gaspy.

Small has also reminded fuel retailers yesterday that they must ensure that any representations about pricing or regarding promotions “are clear, genuine and unambiguous so they do not mislead consumers – and important information must not be hidden in the fine print”.

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