Canstar Blue reviews petrol stations Costco, Puma Energy, BP, Caltex, Coles Express Shell, Metro Petroleum, Mobil 7 Eleven, Shell, United Petroleum and Woolworths Caltex based on their petrol price, appearance & design, customer service, facilities, items for sale and overall satisfaction.
It’s a grudge purchase no motorist likes to make, but as long as you want to get from A to B in your own vehicle, you’ll need to fill up with fuel every so often. Our latest survey suggests that, when it comes to buying petrol, Aussies fall into two categories:
Our survey found that Aussie motorists are spending an average of $144 a month on fuel, which is a lot of money in anyone’s book. So, like paying for any product or service, it’s always a good idea to shop around for a better deal. But when it comes to petrol stations, the price of fuel is just one of several factors that helps determine overall customer satisfaction. You may also like your servo of choice to offer a good range of other items for sale – like snacks, coffee and even essential groceries – and good facilities like a car wash or air pump to check your tyres. It’s also important that fuel stations are clean and welcoming, and that the customer service is good.
Our annual customer review and ratings aims to capture all of these factors, to show which service station chain is keeping Aussie motorists happiest in every respect. Price is undoubtedly very important, but if you know you’re getting good facilities and a friendly face, you might find the extra couple of bucks at the pump are worth it. So, which fuel stations are rated highest on these factors?
As you can see from our ratings table above, Costco is currently the standout servo overall. The wholesale retailer may only have five fuel stations across the country, but those who use them are certainly satisfied with their appearance and the price they pay for petrol, rating Costco five stars on both counts. Other notable results were:
Seven of the ten chains received either two or three stars for their petrol price, with eight of the ten earning just three stars for overall satisfaction. Service stations have certainly changed a lot over the years – with many now resembling convenience stores rather than just a place to buy petrol – but the price of fuel remains fundamental. Indeed, Costco’s fuel stations are pretty much the most basic around, with low prices the main draw.
However, if you’re one of those motorists who demands a little more from their service station, here is an overview of what the 10 chains in our ratings have on offer, including any discounts or partnerships that could save you money:
Known for all things ‘bought in bulk’ and American, Costco is proving a real hit with Australians who like a bargain. Paying an annual membership fee of $60 opens up a world of discounts on all manner of foods, drinks and household items, as well as fuel. When Costco’s service station in North Lakes – north of Brisbane – first opened in 2014, motorists were lined up around the block to get a taste of cheaper fuel. And it was a similar scenario across other sites in Australia. Costco offered generous per-litre discounts on its fuel at opening, and now offers incentives for Costco members to save at the pump. So in one go you can buy your jumbo-sized tub of Nutella and then fill up with discounted fuel. There are currently eight wholesale Costco stores across Australia, of which five have petrol stations. Two further stores are set to open in 2017.
A relative newcomer to the Australian fuel sphere, Puma is a Dutch company that also owns various ‘independent’ service stations such as Neumann Petroleum. Puma Energy has shot up in popularity in recent years and has an expansive fuel card system, not to mention supplying fuel to various mine sites across the country. In Western Australia, Puma has a partnership with IGA supermarkets, offering 4c off per litre when you purchase $25 of groceries. In other states there is no direct affiliation with supermarkets, but expect ad-hoc fuel discounts regularly. Evidently, a lot of customers were satisfied with Puma’s overall service, as the only chain to rate four stars for overall satisfaction.
British Petroleum, or BP as it’s more often known, is a stalwart of the Australian fuel landscape. It has an extensive fuel card system, which has previously won our customer satisfaction award for Small Business Fuel Cards. For consumers, it’s perhaps best known for its presence in huge roadside truckstops and for its BP Ultimate 98-octane premium fuel. BP earned three stars for overall satisfaction, but earned five stars for facilities, most likely due to its fuel stations being attached to fast food outlets and having full toilet and shower facilities in a lot of locations.
Short for the ‘California Texas Oil Company’, Caltex has a strong presence in Australia, most notably through its supermarket affiliations. As for its standalone stores, they are fairly few and far between these days, but the company has both a fuel card system and a Myer One rewards system, whereby presenting your Myer One card earns you one shopping point for every dollar spent. Given the fact that many of us spend over $50 each time we fill up, this rewards system could quickly earn its stripes. Caltex is also known for its ‘Vortex’ series of 98-octane fuels made for performance cars, nicknamed ‘Fitness Fuels’. The 98-octane fuels have an engine-cleaning additive – along with rust and foam inhibitors – to keep your engine ticking along nicely. Caltex earned three stars overall, but achieved five stars for service.
Differing from normal Shell service stations in that Coles owns the spot, with Shell supplying the petrol, Coles Express is well known for its 4c per litre discounts whereby shoppers who buy their groceries at Coles supermarkets can then get discounts at the pump. They can also scan their Flybuys rewards card to accumulate points, and pick up many of the same groceries available in a regular Coles store. Coles Express is one of the most expansive fuel stations across Australia, with nearly 700 locations all up. It earned three stars overall in this year’s ratings, but achieved five stars for service, facilities and items for sale.
Primarily found in NSW and the ACT, Metro has a wide-reaching range of fuel stations across the state – and territory – and is one of the largest independent fuel stations in Australia. It has a comprehensive fuel card system akin to that of larger retailers, as well as a range of bulk-buy discounts. Founded more than 40 years ago, Metro has grown to have 180 locations. It earned three stars across the board in our ratings, except for the price of petrol, where independents are known to beat the bigger guys by a couple of cents. Just because it’s independent, doesn’t mean it lags behind the big guys, with car washes, convenience stores and all the facilities you’d expect with any large fuel station.
Competing against the juggernaut of the big supermarkets, 7 Eleven’s partnership with Mobil brings many of the same features and discounts you have come to expect with a modern servo. Perhaps most noteworthy is its fuel price ‘lock-in’ app. You download the app for free (Apple or Android) and find out the best fuel price in your area. You can then lock this price in for seven days and use it at any 7 Eleven fuel station. This is especially useful with the wild fluctuations many Aussies experience at the bowser. You get the same great fuel Mobil is known for with 7 Eleven’s network of convenience stores – and yes, Slurpees. Mobil 7 Eleven earned three stars overall, but achieved five stars for items for sale.
It’s rare to find a fuel station that isn’t connected to a grocery or convenience store these days, but there are still a huge number of Shell servos in Australia. Known for sponsoring various motorsports leagues around the globe, Shell is perhaps one of the largest fuel companies in the world, known for its ‘V Power’ high-performance 98-octane fuel. With well over 700 locations Australia-wide, Shell’s Motorist app lets you see special offers, track your loyalty card points and transactions, and helps you find your nearest Shell station. Shell achieved a mixed bag of results overall, but achieved five stars for its facilities.
One of the largest independent fuel retailers in the country, United sells all manner of fuels, with a lot of locations even having the high-performance E85 fuel. Customers can also benefit from its many reward and fuel cards. United has nearly 200 locations nationwide and is known for providing “effective fuels at a competitive price”, often undercutting the bigger guys by a cent or two per litre. United achieved three stars in every category this year, including overall satisfaction. However, before Costco’s run of success, it had been highest rated for five years in a row.
Not to be confused with regular old Caltex service stations, Woolworths’ fuel locations merely use Caltex fuels, but remain a wholly ‘Woolies experience’. With its well-known shopper docket discount program, Woolworths Caltex has more than 500 locations Australia-wide, and boasts discounts of up to 8c per litre. Using the Everyday Rewards card program, customers also get one point for every dollar spent. Beyond that customers get access to Caltex’s range of fuels, including the Vortex range. Many locations also have car washes, not to mention groceries! This year Woolworths Caltex achieved three stars overall.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of just filling up your vehicle at the nearest service station, but try to treat the process of buying fuel like paying for any other product or service. Be sure to shop around for a good price, and make sure you take advantage of any rewards programs that can help you save a buck or two. If you don’t think you’re getting a good deal at your regular servo, try to drive past another one on your way home from work. You might even find the all-round experience is a lot better.
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have refuelled their vehicle at a service station in Australia in the last month – in this case, 2,379 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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