I’m not sure why. They argue that they’re providing an information service to their customers. Given that fuel prices here in New Zealand are largely cartel-based and that most petrol and diesel products come from exactly the same refinery, it’s difficult to see what this attempt at honesty is really about. When one oil company moves its prices up or down, the others all match this within minutes. The price of fuel is the price of fuel.
Conformity rules. In centres fortunate to have a Gull retail outlet, all retail fuel prices are about 6 cents a litre cheaper than in places that don’t. This means that an extra 6 cents is being gouged from customers who are un-Gulled. That applies to all fuel retailers, not just Z.
People can accept that fuel may be cheaper when it’s sold close to a bulk storage terminal near a port. But Gull seem to be able to keep their prices down in inland towns. Their delivery costs, even if their tankers burn their own diesel, must be the same as those of other fuel companies.
Another aspect of dishonest fuel marketing that annoys me is that 0.9 cent pricing nonsense.
91 octane fuel is currently being touted at about 218.9 cents a litre. That’s 219 cents a litre to all intents and purposes. Fuel prices only ever move up or down in 1 cent increments. If fuel companies aren’t sophisticated enough to adjust their prices by 0.1 of a cent, then no value is served by promoting a decimal point value. This is good old age-of-steam chicanery designed to make a product appear cheaper than it actually is, nothing more, nothing less.
Regrettably media buy into this. A few months ago 91 octane retail prices fell briefly to 199.9 cents a litre. A big deal was made of fuel being less than $2 a litre. No it wasn’t. Anybody paying cash would be paying $2.00 a litre, thanks to generally accepted rounding practices, with a sale of 50 litres being necessary for a cash buyer to retrieve the 5 cent rounding needed to give them any material benefit from the price being less than $2.
Nobody in the fuel retail cartel is going to break ranks and change this nonsense any day soon. I know that, but that truth still doesn’t stop me being annoyed by the dishonesty it enshrines.