Why the price change?

Just an observation. I’ve never really understood how fuel stations can get away with continually adjusting fuel prices in what’s commonly called the “fuel price cycle”. Surely it’s not right for the prices to change so often, and with amazing synchronicity across most fuel outlets.

It used to be a weekly cycle, then a fortnightly cycle, but now it goes for three weeks or more. Changing the cycle to a much longer time frame means most of us have to fill up when the price is highest, unless you only drive to church on Sunday. So we are all left feeling rather cheated when the price increases unexpectedly and dramatically, sometimes by 40 cents per litre or more than the day before. Then the nightly news reports the price rise as an “outrage” even though it’s been happening for decades. Of course, the ACCC have launched multiple tax payer funded investigations into the uncompetitive behaviour of the fuel industry, but it seems they’re made of teflon. Nothing ever sticks, and in the end, they always come out smelling of roses…… even though obviously fuel and roses have quite different odours.

Do you think any other business sector could get away with introducing a price cycle? Imagine if there was a printing price cycle. Imagine if you walked into Simply Print and ordered 100 A4 copies on Monday for $15 and then got a reprint the next day, only to find it cost you $20. You’d certainly ask questions wouldn’t you? Imagine if you stormed out in disgust and walked into the print shop up the road only to find out they have the same cycle. “Sorry sir, but if you’d only come in yesterday, that’s the “cheap copy” day. It wouldn’t be long before all printers would be investigated by the ACCC for price fixing, and I bet we wouldn’t be teflon coated.

As far as I can see, there is no other industry that can get away with this non-competitive behaviour, so how does the fuel industry do it? Have we as a community just accepted it? Perhaps we should all stop driving our cars. And in that probably lies the answer. We can’t. People can live without printing, or beer (well some of us can), or roses, but we need our cars. When electric or steam cars take off, we may just have the last laugh.

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