UK

Petrol giants cash in on the festive break as some charge £10 over national average for tank

Yule fuel rip-off to hit drivers: Petrol giants cash in on the festive break as some charge more than £10 over the national average for a tank to cap off a year of fleecing

  • Average pump prices risen to 115.5p a litre for unleaded and 118.9p for diesel 
  • The RAC said the current average price is more than 2p a litre too expensive 
  • Prices lower in August when wholesale costs almost the same as they are now 

Motorists are being ripped off by petrol firms cashing in on the great Christmas getaway.

Retailers were accused of profiteering as it emerged that some motorway services are charging more than £10 over the national average for a tank of fuel.

Average pump prices have risen to 115.5p a litre for unleaded and 118.9p for diesel, compared with lows of 106.7p and 111.9p in May.

The RAC said the current average price is more than 2p a litre too expensive than it would be if retailers played fair with drivers. 

 The RAC said the current average price is more than 2p a litre too expensive than it would be if retailers played fair with drivers (file image)

The AA accused petrol providers of ramping up prices before the holiday rush.

The motoring organisations pointed out that average prices were a penny lower in August, when wholesale costs were almost the same as they are now.

Meanwhile, a snapshot survey by the Mail has highlighted extortionate prices at motorway forecourts.

Motorists using Leigh Delamere services on the M4 near Swindon are being charged 135.9p a litre for unleaded and 139.9p for diesel.

This means it will cost £74 to fill up an average 55-litre unleaded car at the BP forecourt – £11 more than the average cost of a full tank.

Similarly, the Shell garage at Burtonwood services on the M62 between Manchester and Liverpool is charging 134.9p for unleaded and 138.9p for diesel.

And Esso off the M25 at Thurrock has set prices at 135.9p for unleaded and 139.9p for diesel.

It caps a year of ruthless fleecing at the pumps. Petrol prices were an average of £6 a tank cheaper this year compared with last, but only half of potential savings were passed on to drivers during the spring lockdown.

And despite travel grinding to a halt for much of the year and the price of oil plunging into negative for the first time in April, average pump prices in 2020 were higher than in 2016, when oil prices crashed but remained higher than this year.

Average pump prices have risen to 115.5p a litre for unleaded and 118.9p for diesel, compared with lows of 106.7p and 111.9p in May

Average pump prices have risen to 115.5p a litre for unleaded and 118.9p for diesel, compared with lows of 106.7p and 111.9p in May

Retailers say they had to keep prices high to stay in business during the first lockdown – when traffic plunged to levels last seen in the mid-1950s – while motorway providers have blamed high overheads for their prices.

But critics say there is no justification for raising costs when car use has surged to more than 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and retailers have benefited from months of low wholesale costs. 

Some 13million car journeys are expected over the ‘five days of Christmas’ when coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: ‘Drivers have a right to feel they are being Scrooged at the pumps.

‘Some forecourts seem to be boosting their profit margins ahead of Christmas. It’s just not the festive spirit in particularly bad times.’

Simon Williams, of the RAC, said: ‘Retailers are still benefiting from lower wholesale prices. 

‘Averages for unleaded and diesel are more than 2p too expensive and ought to come down in the next fortnight rather than go up.’

Brian Madderson, of the Petrol Retailers Association, said: ‘We are regarded as an essential service.

‘Many retailers are trying to build back their business and keep staff in work.

‘It is wrong to suggest they should be cutting prices.’ 

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