APCO has accused the supermarket giants’ docket discount system of pushing up petrol prices by cutting out all competition.

The company, which has stations in Albury, Wodonga and Wangatatta, revealed its fury at disadvantages in the system when directors Robert and Peter Anderson wrote a submission to the Victorian government’s inquiry into regional fuel prices.

“Without doubt the docket system has destroyed what was a strong and competitive market,” they said.

“No matter what APCO’s price is on our board, no matter how low we drop our pump prices, we will never get the Coles/Woolies discount docket customer back, we can never win. So why would we reduce prices unnecessarily for no gain in volume to offset the lower retail margins? What business that wants to stay in business would want to do that?”

The submission revealed Albury APCO was the second most expensive of its regional sites because the NSW compulsory fuel price check scheme, introduced more than 12 months ago, allowed competitors to see when prices were dropped and match them.

Wangaratta Council strategy, growth and environment manager Jacqui Bright also said a lack of competition in regional communities often resulted in higher prices than metropolitan areas.

“Due to lack of competition and price cycling in smaller towns, there is often little to no difference in prices between retailers,” she said.

“Unfortunately for Wangaratta residents, it is not viable to drive to another town for a cheaper price on the day.

“Many of our rural residents currently have limited internet access and therefore online comparisons cannot be accessed.”

Extracted from: The Border Mail