Consumers will now be able to see the same petrol price data as retailers. Photo: Christopher ChanThe consumer watchdog has ended court proceedings against’s the country’s biggest petrol retailers after the information service they use to exchange pricing data agreed to share the information with the public.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has long been concerned about the exchange, operated by a company called Informed Sources, which allowed retailers including BP, Caltex, Woolworths and Coles, to exchange site-by-site petrol price information ever 15 or 30 minutes.
The ACCC that alleged that being able to communicate price data with each other could crimp competition.
But under a new agreement, Informed Sources has agreed to provide the regular pricing data to consumers at the same as it is provided to the retailers.
“The ACCC believes that greater transparency of petrol prices and the behaviour of petrol retailers across Australia will reduce the potential for any adverse effect of the Informed Sources service on competition,” chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
“The resolution of this matter will enable consumers to access petrol prices in their local area or in areas along their journey. These prices will be updated every 15 or 30 minutes.”
The data will also be made available to third-party service provides such as motoring groups and research firms.
“Making this pricing information available to consumers will allow consumers to make better informed purchasing decisions and therefore create greater competition in petrol pricing,” Mr Sims said.
Under the ACCC’s deal, BP, Caltex, Woolworths, and 7-Eleven have agreed that they will not give price information to Informed Sources unless the data is made available to consumers and third parties at the same time. The agreement will run for five years, starting in the middle of 2016.
The ACCC launched action against the big fuel retailers over the Informed Sources matter in August 2014.
Last week Coles agreed to terminate its agreement with Informed Sources after the ACCC’s probe. Mobil made a similar deal with the watchdog in August 2014.
The ACCC has been growing increasingly concerns about the state of the petrol market. Earlier this month is slammed petrol retailers for enjoying the highest margins on petrol and diesel sales since price monitoring began in 2002, saying that petrol prices had not followed plunging crude oil price down.
Last week Caltex Australia said it was on track to post a record full-year profit, thanks in no small part to the impact of lower oil prices on its profit margins.
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