Pay attention to the servo signs.
Pay attention to the servo signs. Dean Bertoncelj

RACQ calls motorists to boycott big names over fuel rorts

QUEENSLAND'S peak motoring body has urged commuters to boycott fuel outlets - particularly those owned by Coles and Woolworths - charging too much for a litre of fuel.

The price of unleaded petrol soared to 166.9 cents across the Sunshine Coast on the weekend, a high last seen in July 2008.

RACQ general manager Paul Turner said no one should have been paying more than 160 cents a litre.

Mr Turner said the supermarket chains and their shopper dockets "have driven this massive increase".

"It's a straight abuse of market power," he said.

"They are using their power to drive out the smaller independents."

Fueltrac's Geoff Trotter said the difference between the July 2008 price hike and the weekend's was the profit margin.

"Back then the oil price was $145 US a barrel and the exchange rate was 95 cents. On the weekend it was $107 US a barrel and the exchange rate is 92 cents.

"The difference is back then the total gross margin on fuel was 19.5 cents a litre, the total on the weekend was a gross margin of 32.5 cents a litre."

Both Coles and Woolworths have denied in other media they are behind the massive price increase.

"We're absolutely a price follower on petrol, we never set the price," a Woolworths spokeswoman said.

But Mr Turner said the fact the petrol price was highest in Queensland, where there is less competition from the independents, compared to any other state was telling.

Both the RACQ and Fueltrac have called on the ACCC and Fuel Commissioner to intervene and ban shopping docket coupons.

"This will force Coles and Woolies to compete on the same footing in the petrol market as they do with Aldi and Costco in the grocery market," Mr Trotter said.

The ACCC has been reviewing the situation since last year, but a result wasn't expected until the end of the year.

"The ACCC is currently assessing whether long-term consumer detriment could arise from the size of the shopper docket discounts and the frequency and duration of these offers made by Coles and Woolworths Caltex," a spokesman said.



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