Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Kiwi motorists told to “kick the tyres” on fuel loyalty schemes

The Commerce Commission says Kiwi motorists really need to “kick the tyres” on fuel discounts and compare display prices to make sure they’re getting the best price over the summer holiday period.

Chair, John Small says loyalty schemes are an important part of the fuel retail price landscape – and can offer savings – but the Commission’s analysis shows that consumers could get better value if they looked for the lowest actual price in their area on the day.

“Kiwis really need to kick the tyres on loyalty schemes and compare board prices to maximise their savings at the pump,” said Dr Small.

He’s encouraging Kiwis to use tools like the Gaspy app to check and compare fuel prices. The app enables motorists to check for the lowest fuel price on any given day, without having to drive around in search of the best deal.

To help Kiwi motorists navigate fuel pricing and discount regimes, the Commission has modelled different discounting programmes to compare the value from a simple discount compared with a fuel retailer who has a higher price along with a more complex loyalty scheme.

Dr Small says loyalty schemes can require complicated patterns of behaviour to get the maximum savings.

“When shopping around for the best price, motorists are often better off simply choosing the petrol station with the lowest board price or the site with a one-off ‘discount day’, rather than counting on a complicated loyalty scheme.”

As with all businesses, Dr Small says fuel retailers also must ensure that any representations about pricing or promotions are clear, genuine and unambiguous so they do not mislead consumers — and important information must not be hidden in the fine print.

This is important so that consumers get the deal that they think they are getting, he said.

More information on the Commission’s fuel discount modelling can be found here from page 15.

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