130 days ago

Fuel Deals and Supermarkets

Stephen from Todds Valley

It took me a while to work up the trust to buy fuel from the new NPD outlet in Saint Vincent Street. I thought it would be a hassle if something went wrong and there were no attendants nearby to sort things out. However I've now bought a lot of fuel from NPD. I guess a saving of maybe seven to twenty cents (or whatever) per litre isn't going to make me a millionaire, but every little helps. And it is more a matter of principle...

Now that NPD have set up in town, it seems that the other outlets are less in unison regarding pricing. I don't know who owns all the fuel 'brands', but it has certainly appeared they often acted together in simultaneously altering fuel prices. They advertised fuel prices to the tenth of a cent, yet most brands were mostly selling at the same price at the same time. Surely their costs are not ever identical. Anyway, from my point of view, there wasn't a lot of serious competition going on. But I'm not a business guru and I've been wrong many times...

I prefer to simply buy stuff at a fair price. I don't want to jump through hoops or have to present a special card or a supermarket coupon to get the 'best' price on fuel. I don't like being handed a fuel voucher at the supermarket. I pick my supermarket according to the service I get and the availability of suitably priced products. I prefer to use a fuel station that is located away from traffic hassles, but price is always a consideration.

Last Saturday I was running a bit late for an appointment, but I thought I should top up my wife's car with fuel seeing it was advertised at under $2 per litre. So I raced into NPD and started to pump the fuel. However the fuel flow stopped and a fault message appeared on the pump's screen. I immediately phoned the 0800 help line number and recorded the problem and my details. Later I checked my credit card online and found that there was a pending charge of $150 from NPD, which bothered me. So early this week I phoned NPD. They understood my situation and were professional and reassuring. They then fixed the problem so that the outcome was very much in my favour. I thought at the time that I might never go back there for fuel, but I was treated well and it was probably just teething trouble at the new installation anyway. So I will have no hesitation going back. We all have problems, but it is how we fix them that matters.

I want to continue to support this company. They have brought some real competition to the area.

If you have never used an unattended fuel station like NPD, here are some things I've learned...
1. You pull up alongside the pump you want to use, and you note the number of the pump.
2. Place your eftpos/credit card into the slot at the pay station. Follow the instructions, being sure to enter the correct pump number and the grade of fuel that you will be using. At this point, it seems that the maximum purchase amount of $150 is 'deducted' or 'held' from your account.
3. Fill your tank from the correct pump. You can drive away after this, but if you are cautious like me, you can then go back to the pay station for a receipt. It appears that you can call in at the station and ask for a receipt at any time. A duplicate of your last transaction will be printed. This is handy to know, because a couple of times it appears that the receipt machine has run out of paper.... which isn't surprising seeing how busy the station can be.

Will I ever buy fuel from other stations? Sure... I will have to, and I have nothing personal against them or their staff. I'm not associated with NPD in any way. My wife and I make our living creating art work.

Best wishes from Todd Valley.

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