Petrol ‘rip off’ adds £6 a tank: Drivers should be saving 11p a litre if petrol retailers were being fair, new analysis finds
- New research has found that pump prices are 11p more than they should be
- Petrol retailers have been accused of ripping off drivers by £6 for a tank of fuel
- RAC said plummeting wholesale fuel prices were not being passed on at pumps
Petrol retailers were yesterday accused of ripping off drivers by as much as £6 for a tank of petrol and nearly £8 for diesel.
RAC analysis found that average pump prices on forecourts should be 11p a litre cheaper for petrol and 14p for diesel if retailers were playing fair with drivers.
The motoring group said that plummeting wholesale fuel prices since mid-October were still not being passed on in full at the pumps.
Allowing for a 10p a litre retailer margin – 3p more than the long-term average – the RAC calculated that average petrol prices should be around 140p a litre and diesel about 160p.
(File photo) Filling the typical 55-litre tank in a family car with petrol is around £6.05 more expensive than it should be
But despite forecourt prices dropping, at the end of December they were still much higher at an average 151.06p and 173.97p respectively.
It means filling the typical 55-litre tank in a family car with petrol is around £6.05 more expensive than it should be, according to the motoring group’s analysis. For diesel it was £7.70.
RAC fuel expert Simon Williams said: ‘On the face of it, December looks like it was a good month for drivers, with 9p coming off at the pumps on top of November’s 6p.
‘But there’s no question that the drop should have been far bigger given how far wholesale prices have come down.’ Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK campaign, said: ‘For years and years there’s been a foul stench of sickening exploitation hanging around thousands of garage forecourts, despite falling wholesale and oil costs.
‘We should be seeing fuel price signposts across the country 10p to 20p a litre lower for diesel and petrol.’ Business Secretary Grant Shapps wrote to fuel retailers on December 22 urging them to ‘ensure savings are passed on to consumers’.
It came amid fears that retailers were cashing in on the Great Christmas getaway by failing to pass on more of the savings from the drop in wholesale fuel prices, which have been volatile all year due largely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Average pump prices earlier this year hit a record average of 191.5p a litre for unleaded and 199.09p for diesel in what has been a punishing year on motorists’ wallets.
But they were still higher over Christmas 2022 than 2021 despite the big fall in the wholesale price of fuel, the RAC found.
A report last month by the competition watchdog found that retailers may be ripping off drivers with ‘rocket and feather’ pricing.
This is where they are quick to pass on rising wholesale fuel costs and slow to pass on the savings when they fall.
The Competition and Markets Authority report said further investigation was needed to find out whether this uplift was the fault of excessive pricing.
CMA analysts found average retailer margins have risen by up to 4p a litre over the last five years.
The Mail has repeatedly highlighted how falling wholesale costs have thrown up glaring price differences at forecourts around the country.
Gordon Balmer, boss of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents smaller independent forecourts, has denied retailers were ripping people off.
He said they had been forced to hike margins due to increased running costs such as soaring electricity and staff bills.