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Paying More For Less; Petrol Bowser Inconsistencies Prompts Scrutiny

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Fuelling up is an expensive exercise. Petrol prices have been rising year-on-year, and regional areas often incur additional charges, due to their location and lower levels of competition. 

Areas with considerable primary industry labour forces rely heavily on petrol for day-to-day life. Minimal public transport options, and far stretches of land between work and home, are two significant factors influencing consumer choice in rural areas

fuel chart

However, if you've been feeling the pinch of fuel prices recently, there could be another factor at play. 

Reports of petrol bowser inaccuracies have prompted the National Measurement Institute (NMI) to audit bowsers, investigating whether consumers are being short-changed. 

Minister for Industry, Science and Techonology, Karen Andrews, says "it’s important Australian consumers get what they pay for when they buy products by weight, volume or number."

“While most businesses want to do the right thing, there are penalties for businesses that breach the law.”

The NMI has the power to issue infringement notices and hefty fines for business who aren't complying, hovering around $1000 per offence. Regarding more serious and rampant violations, the maximum fines are $42,000 per offence for individuals, and $210,000 per offence for companies.

For the 2017-18 audit, 1933 petrol dispensers were tested and found 30 inaccuracies in the customer's favour, and 93 inaccuracies to customer disadvantage. Since the audit for 2015-2016, the percentage of inaccuracies to customer disadvantage has doubled, from 2.4% to 4.8%. 

Initially this statistic doesn't appear too high, however the spike suggests more companies aren't maintaining their trade measurement devices, a procedure they're required to perform to meet consumer standards and avoid breaching the law. 

For Spencer Gulf, Mid North and Yorke Peninsula locals, the findings could explain rising costs. If you believe you've been using petrol bowsers with inaccurate readings, the NMI encourages you to lodge a complaint and report businesses which may not be complying with the law. 

Photo source Skitterphoto, Pexels