Declan Rurenga, 20 November 2015

CALTEX has launched an investigation after a Wagga service station that mistakenly offered an incredible discount had motorists swarming in.

Kooringal Caltex undercut the city’s servos by a massive 10 cents on average for E10 unleaded fuel on Monday and Tuesday, a move the fuel giant admits “may have been a mistake”.

Plenty of drivers took up the opportunity to fill up at $1.14 a litre before the price ratcheted back to $1.249 on Thursday.

Motorist David McInness asked why fuel companies could not offer the price more regularly.

“They’re very quick at putting prices up when crude oil goes up, but very slow at putting it down when it drops,” Mr McInness said.

He said the service station operators were shooting themselves in the foot.

“People come in, they return but never come back because the price has shot back up,” he said.

Caltex Australia’s spokesman Sam Collier said the Kooringal site was priced by the company and said the difference may have been a misunderstanding or potentially “human error”.

Mr Collier said the company was aware it needed to provide a quality product at price which was competitive.

Meanwhile, Wagga’s independent service stations said the price difference was a “stunt”.

Swift Service station owner Paul Seaman said heavy discounting confused drivers and called it a “gimmick”.

“It’s a loss leader .. this business is all about getting people through the door,” he said.

Mr Seaman said cutting the price down to $1.14 per litre could be problematic.

“The normal punter thinks they’re getting ripped off,” he said.

Mr Seaman said fuel used to pay for rent but now barely covers electricity.

Metro Ashmont operator Avrind Ramidi said the $1.14 price was all about getting people into the shop.

“Caltex can’t keep the price low long-term,” he said.

Silvalite Liberty service station manager Tim Towse said the Wagga’s fuel price wasn’t subject to the metropolitan cycle.

“There are occasions when Wagga is actually cheaper,” he said.

“The only time when things get competitive is in the lead-up to a public holiday and they try to get (drivers) into the shop before they go away.”

Unleaded petrol in Wagga on Thursday ranged from $1.219 a litre to $1.299 a litre.

Extracted in full from The Daily Advertiser.