Review on displaying of fuel price boards and impact on current WA laws

This page is for: 
ConsumerMotor industry

Fuel price boards

Review on displaying of fuel price boards and impact on current WA laws

Status: Closed 25 October 2013

Review

A proposed national standard for fuel price boards is under review.  The standard will allow only undiscounted prices to be displayed, as well as requiring all prices to be of equal prominence. 

Consumer Protection was seeking views on the proposed national information standard for fuel price boards. 

In particular, comments about the impact on Western Australia’s existing regulatory requirements in relation to price boards.  The options are:

  1. Maintain the status quo (retain Western Australia’s existing regulatory requirements in relation to fuel price boards in the regions);
  2. Support the introduction of the proposed national information standard and cease existing price board requirements in the regions; or
  3. Support the introduction of the proposed national information standard and maintain Western Australia’s existing price board requirements. 

Importantly, there would be no change to the requirement for fuel retailers to provide daily price notifications to the WA Government’s FuelWatch service.

Ministers responsible for consumer affairs around Australia will use the feedback to assist in deciding what action to take at the next meeting of the Minister’s Consumer Affairs Forum (CAF) in late 2013.

Proposed national information standard

The proposed information standard has the following features:

  • use of fuel price boards would not be compulsory – the standard would only apply to fuel retailers that maintain a fuel price board;
  • only undiscounted prices can be displayed (discounted offers can be displayed but not the discounted price);  
  • all prices displayed must be of equal prominence and be able to be readily seen by motorists approaching the fuel station at any time the fuel station is open for business; 
  • only in-stock fuel prices can be displayed; and
  • transitional arrangements would apply to give retailers a reasonable time in which to comply (6-12 months).

The proposed national information standard:

  • will not require fuel retailers to display a fuel price board;
  • will not require fuel retailers to display a minimum number of fuels; and
  • will not prohibit retailers from including details of fuel discount schemes on signboards.

Key concerns

In summary, the concerns are:

  • how discounted prices, such as “shopper docket” discounts, are displayed and the prominence of those reduced prices relative to the terms and conditions upon which they are based;
  • differences between prices displayed and the actual prices charged;
  • the display of only one or two fuels on price boards;
  • lack of visibility of price boards;
  • lack of consistency in the way information is displayed; and 
  • the display of prices for fuel that is out of stock.

Background

Shopper docket discount schemes have been established in Australia for about 15 years and while they may be well known, consumers still report concerns about discounted prices on fuel price boards being confusing or misleading.

Discounted prices often appear as the most prominent price displayed on fuel price boards, sometimes appearing in illuminated text, larger font size or a different colour than the display of the undiscounted price. Potential confusion is compounded where discounts are restricted to particular fuels.

At present, only Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia have specific laws regulating the usage and content of fuel price boards.  Other jurisdictions rely on general consumer protection laws,

In 2001, Western Australia introduced the Petroleum Products Pricing (PPP) Regulations 2000 under the PPP Act which requires fuel retailers within certain town and regional boundaries to display their fuel prices in a suitable position and sufficiently illuminated, if necessary, to enable the description and price of each fuel to be clearly legible to passing motorists. Where three or more fuel types are available for sale, the prices for at least three types must also be displayed, one of which must be unleaded petrol and the other LPG (if both are available). 

Where a retailer sells fewer than three fuel types, the prices for all fuels available must be displayed. These requirements were introduced to further encourage price transparency and competition in regional areas. 

Price signs for fuels were not mandated for the Perth metropolitan area as almost all metropolitan retailers already displayed fuel price boards at the time. 

Downloads/resources

Enquiries

Enquiries can be made by calling Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054 or by email

Share this page:

Last modified: