Motorists are now able to check fuel prices at every service station in New South Wales, in real-time.
The Fuel Check website is now live, but NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said it was in a “beta mode”, being fine-tuned prior to the official launch next week.
“I think it’s a real game changer,” Mr Stowe said.
“For the very first time you’ll be able to access information about fuel prices for service stations near you and get the very best bargain for your dollar.”
Service stations are now required by law to notify the government every time they change their price.
Operators have a secure web-link to do that, and many do it on their smart phone at the same time as they are changing the price board.
Small business operator Aaron Campbell is looking forward to putting the website through its paces.
“I have earthmoving equipment, I use a substantial amount of diesel, so it makes a difference to my bottom line,” Mr Campbell said.
He said knowing the fuel price in the towns he was visiting in advance would be particularly helpful.
“I would fill up just enough fuel to get to the next town, if I knew it was cheaper,” he said.
Lynette Wright is travelling with her husband from Wagga Wagga to Port Pirie SA this week.
She said until now, she had been relying on word of mouth or petrol station billboards to find the best price.
“A website would save us a lot of time, and a lot of money, and I would appreciate that,” Ms Wright said.
Independent service station operator Tim Towse welcomed the new website, but had one reservation.
“It will increase business, but then again also it could present a bit of an advantage to some of the competition, especially those with fuel vouchers, as they may now be able to drop their prices lower than ours, and we can’t compete with that.”
Fair Trading wants motorists’ input
Motorists will also be able to report a fuel retailer when the prices do not match the website, and Mr Stowe encouraged drivers to point out any disparity.
“There is a facility in the fuel check which allows a consumer, if they find a mismatch, to let Fair Trading know and we can look into it,” Mr Stowe said.
He said service station operators could be fined $550 if they fail to update their price.
“I think this is different to other information in the marketplace, because it is in real time. It does mean you’ll be getting reliable information,” Mr Stowe said.
The State Government will also create a Fuel Check smartphone app, but Mr Stowe said the raw data would also be made public, so other app developers could make their own.
“The NSW government’s anxious to make sure that people have at their disposal the best way of getting the best price.”
Extracted in full from ABC News.