Games Petrol Companies Play

That behaviour has been around for a very long time in the fuel business, supermarkets and others. It is called charging what the market will stand.

1 Like

I noticed the typical spread between 91 and 98 has risen to $0.24 locally. It appears the companies are making a bit more as more vehicles need 95 or 98. They can still post a sharp 91 price on their signs and leave it to the customers to notice that all may not be what it seems. Apps be it the EG Group (Woolies Ampol), Petrol Spy, and others are needed to avoid getting sucked in by comparing prices for 91 on the signs.


This morning, I topped up at my local Caltex servo adding just 7.51 litres at $1.99/L. I was curious to see that my receipt showed $15.01 - I thought it would be just under $15.00.

When I examined the receipt closely, I saw that the price was in fact “$1.999/L”. I thought I was paying $1.99/L when the price was effectively $2.00/L.

I wonder how many litres of fuel a servo sells over a year. If it was possible to secretly increase the price per litre by 0.9c, I suspect that would amount to a windfall across the year.

It seems a bit sneaky. I know 0.9c/L is not a lot on each transaction but why not just be honest about the price advertised on the board and at the pump? $1.999/L is just plain $2.00 as far as I see it.

Which Caltex outlet? It’s an unexpected observation.

PetrolSpy, and motoring organisations sites all display the comparison prices as 4 digits with 1/10th of a cent or 0.1c increments. EG 199.5 cpl or 199.9 cpl etc. Same for our Caltex branded local bowsers and price board displays.

199.9 cpl is only 5c different from $2.00 per litre on a 50 litre fill. Same mental game as the supermarkets who price just below significant price points. EG $1.49 vs $1.50 or $995 and not $1000. It’s surprising how their complex margins with profit always multiply out to such consistent price points.

Agreed, the little extra does not amount to much on a single transaction, especially on my small top up this morning. But I was still surprised to see the extra .009c/L on top of the price I thought I was paying at my local Caltex servo at Mt Ommaney, Qld.
In the old days, you could often buy things that cost e.g. £9.19.11½d. But at least it was honest!

I don’t recall seeing any pump display or any other price advertising that shows the extra digit. It is strange that the software at the till uses another digit.

You have been overcharged 5c which isn’t much but I cannot see how it is legal to display one rate and charge another even for such a small sum.

SORRY! My servo is NOT Caltex - it is Ampol (it was Caltex for many years).

I have just checked the RACQ Fair Fuel Price web site where the price quoted at my AMPOL servo at Mt Ommaney is 199.9.

The receipt I referred to when I first wrote does not show Ampol (or Caltex, as it once was). It shows EG Fuelco (Australia) Limited.

I can’t recall ever seeing petrol prices being displayed in dollar amounts. It is usually cents per litre, with one decimal. So 199.9 seems right.

Can’t see what the issue is.

And the displayed price at the Ampol servo would have shown 199.9c/L as well. The price board at Mt Omanney (older prices) is:

They are the operator of Ampol/Calex service stations in Australia:

1 Like

Possibly lost in translation from the OP?
The following is from Google Street view. Assuming this is the relevant site. It’s a little while since I ventured that far south.

213.9 cpl for ULP91 in this instance. Or $2.139

Snap! @phb :slightly_smiling_face:

The uncertainty is the OP thought they were paying 199.0 c/L but had to pay 199.9 c/L, the exact reason is unclear without seeing what was advertised and the docket.

Sorry again - I must have mistaken the price quoted. I take my “sneaky” back. It was not warranted. I had processed in my mind that the price was $1.99 and the extra $0.009 didn’t register until I checked the receipt.

Thank you mark_m, syncretic, phb and Gregr for setting me straight.


I sometimes wonder why $1.999 isn’t $2.00 from a consumer point of view. $0.001 is possibly inconsequential, until one does basic marketing training where more consumers will chose to buy petrol at $1.999 than $2.00, as $2.00 is seen as being a lot more expensive. The psychology of marketing and consumerism.


Well firstly, retail fuel has never been sold in dollars per litre as far as I know, so talking about $1.999 makes no sense. The price per litre is a multiplier applied to the litres used to arrive at a final price.

I am pretty sure that in computer systems, something like $1.999 is not a valid monetary value anyway.

However, if one actually bought one litre of fuel, at 199.9 cents per litre, then the price to be paid would indeed be $2 if using cash due to rounding to 5 cent marks.

I’m glad I went yesterday and paid only the 1.999c/L.

I checked RACQ Fair Fuel Price today and 1.999 has become 235.9.

What a difference a day makes in the games petrol companies play.

1 Like

I travel through Singleton regularly and wonder what the people there did to rile up the petrol companies. At the moment the highway price there for unleaded 91 is 223.9¢/L and the cheapest in town is 2¢ less. Around the corner here in Newcastle it is 193.9¢/L - 30¢ per litre cheaper. That has been the case for a few months. And at Aberdeen further up the New England highway it is 189.9¢/L. At the moment it is slightly cheaper in Muswellbrook but generally Aberdeen is the cheapest between Newcastle and Tamworth. Can 30¢ per litre difference be justified or is it collusion? Whatever the problem, it does mean I look at NSW Fuel Check regularly and make sure I have plenty of fuel when near Singleton.

Or for U91 it’s 48c today, with no need to leave town (Brisbane).
Supposedly reflects the competitive free retail market. Of course there may be other reasons including the famous petrol company fuel pricing cycle.

The Benchmark for Australian petrol is Singapore MOGAS95.