So the Office of Fair Trading thinks that the market for petrol and diesel in the UK is ‘working well’. Do the OFT’s findings mirror your experience of filling up your car?
According to its new report, the OFT concludes that very little action is required to change the way the current UK fuel market works.
Independent forecourts might disagree. They’ve been in decline for years, with more shutting every month, and it was complaints by independent retailers about oil companies and supermarkets gaining an unfair advantage that led to this OFT report.
Is the UK the best in Europe?
However, after a four-month investigation, the regulator has found no evidence of market manipulation, concluding that ‘at a national level, competition is working well in the UK road fuel sector’.
Before tax, the OFT says that fuel prices in the UK are among the lowest in Europe. Its analysis suggests that pump price rises over the last decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.
It also says that forecourt prices don’t appear to rise unduly quickly when crude oil prices peak, and nor do they take too long to fall back when crude costs tumble.
Motorway pricing info needed
However, one problem area that the OFT has identified is motorway service stations. As most of us are all too well aware, motorway service areas have significantly higher fuel prices than other outlets. For instance, the OFT found in August 2012 that prices were on average 7.5p per litre higher for petrol and 8.3p more for diesel than regular forecourts.
In this case, the OFT’s concerns centre on motorists being unable to see these prices until after they’ve left the motorway. So it’s asked the Department for Transport to introduce new motorway road signs to display prices.
So what’s your experience of UK forecourts? Would you welcome more information about pricing before turning off the motorway?