2018 Petrol and Service Stations
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Compare petrol & service stations from 7-Eleven, United Petroleum, Costco, Metro Petroleum, Liberty, Woolworths Caltex, Coles Express Shell, Puma Energy, BP, Caltex & Shell on factors including the price of petrol, appearance & cleanliness, customer service and range of other items for sale.
Canstar Blue research finalised in November 2017, published in December 2017.
7-Eleven pumps the competition in petrol station review
The cost of fuel is enough to drive anyone up the wall – but like any other product or service, you’ll end up paying for convenience, so you need to shop around. Sure, it’s easy and convenient to fill up at your nearest servo, but are you really getting the best value for money possible – in terms of the price you’re paying, but also the facilities that are available and the customer service provided? If the answer is “no” then maybe it’s time for a change. Driving past one service station to reach another seems nonsensical, but then so does paying more than you need to! If you’re ready to wave goodbye to your old servo, see if our annual review of petrol stations inspires you to try another. We’ve surveyed over 2,000 motorists across Australia to seek their feedback on the service stations they use, to deliver the following guide.
While the price you pay at the pump is hugely important, our customer ratings reflect much more than that – we also ask motorists to give their opinions on a range of other significant factors, including their servo’s appearance & cleanliness, facilities, customer service and range of other items for sale. After all, service stations are increasingly selling a lot more than just petrol, and some are much more welcoming than others. So, which petrol stations have been rated highly, and which have work to do?
- 7-Eleven Mobil was the only brand to rate five stars for overall customer satisfaction. It also got top marks for service, facilities, range of other items for sale and convenience.
- Coles Express Shell, Costco, Liberty, Metro Petroleum, United Petroleum and Woolworths Caltex all achieved four stars for overall customer satisfaction. United earned five stars for its facilities, while Costco was praised for its petrol price and appearance & cleanliness, and Coles scored top marks for its range of other items for sale and facilities.
- BP, Caltex, Puma Energy and Shell all received three stars for overall customer satisfaction, with BP and Shell securing five stars for their facilities.
7-Eleven Mobil takes over from Costco as the highest-rated servo from last year, which is quite telling in itself. While Costco was the only brand to achieve five stars for its petrol price, it was well off the pace in most other areas. Some motorists will be 100% cost-conscious – and that’s understandable – but for lots of others, factors like service and appearance & cleanliness are equally, if not more important. This year we identified the following ‘drivers’ of overall customer satisfaction:
The search for cheap petrol
Price may not entirely dictate where you decide to fill up your car, but there’s no doubt that we’d all like to pay a little less at the pump. More than half of respondents to this year’s survey (55%) said the cost of fuel is a major strain on their finances. However, many motorists are not helping themselves, with 49% admitting that they usually fill up at the same petrol station regardless of the price. Some motorists are more proactive at chasing lower prices than others – 22% have an app that allows them to monitor fuel prices and 56% would be willing to drive a little further if it meant saving money.
Getting a good deal on petrol is made more complicated by pricing cycles, with the cheapest days to buy often varying between cities and even suburbs. Generally speaking, the ACCC advises that – in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the cheapest days to fill up at the bowser. Perth has a more unpredictable pricing cycle, with Mondays typically the cheapest day.
In our ratings, four brands – BP, Shell, Caltex and Coles Express Shell – received just two stars for their petrol price. While this is a helpful, high-level, guide to costs, it should be noted that prices can and will vary between individual service stations – sometimes just a short distance apart.
Keeping an eye on petrol prices in your area is certainly a smart move. But your decision on where to fill up could also come down to personal preference. To help you decide which servo may be worth a visit, here is an overview of the 11 brands in this year’s review.
Top Petrol Stations
Competing against the juggernaut of the big two 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 petrol 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. 7-Eleven Mobil was the only brand to rate five stars for overall satisfaction in our latest review, in addition to service, facilities, convenience and range of other items for sale.
Coles Express Shell
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 a Coles supermarket can then get discounts at the pump. They can also scan their Flybuys rewards card to accumulate points and buy many of the same groceries available in a regular Coles store. Coles Express Shell is one of the most expansive fuel stations in Australia, with nearly 700 locations all up. It earned four stars overall in this year’s ratings, but achieved five stars for facilities and range of items for sale.
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 will open 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. 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 trip, you can buy your jumbo-sized tub of Nutella and then fill up with discounted fuel. There are currently nine wholesale Costco stores across Australia, of which six have petrol stations. Costco rated four stars overall this year, but notably achieved five stars for its petrol price.
Liberty describes itself as a “competitive fuel alternative” in a fuel market dominated by several large, multi-national corporations. Not only does Liberty supply independent fuel retailers, but it also runs its own-branded service stations across the country, with a particular focus on regional areas. Promising to be competitive on price, Liberty says it’s not into expensive self-promotion, instead focussing its efforts on delivering great service. In our latest review, Liberty achieved four stars for overall satisfaction and a mixture of three and four stars across the board.
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 four stars for overall satisfaction in our latest review, but three stars in most other areas, including price. Just because it’s an 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.
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 retailers by a cent or two per litre. United achieved four stars for overall satisfaction and price, but stood out with five stars for its facilities. Until a couple of years ago, United had been the highest-rated service station in our annual reviews for five years on the spin.
Not to be confused with regular old Caltex service stations, Woolworths’ fuel locations merely use Caltex fuels, but remain a wholly ‘Woolies experience’. Woolworths Caltex has over 500 locations across the country, and with its well-known shopper docket discount program, boasts discounts of up to 8c a litre. Using the Everyday Rewards card program, customers also get one point for every dollar spent. Beyond that customers can 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 four stars overall and four stars in all other research categories, with the exception of petrol price where it rated three stars.
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British Petroleum, or BP as it’s more commonly 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. It has more than 1,400 locations across the country. BP earned three stars for overall satisfaction this year, 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 boasts a strong presence in Australia – most notably through its supermarket affiliations. As for its standalone stations, they are fairly few and far between these days, but it has both a fuel card system and a Myer One rewards system, whereby presenting your Myer One card will earn you one shopping point for every dollar spent. Given the fact that many of us spend more than $50 each time we fill up, this rewards program 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 in our latest review, but achieved four stars in most areas.
A relative newcomer to the Aussie fuel market, Puma Energy is a Dutch company that also owns various ‘independent’ service stations such as Neumann Petroleum, Ausfuel Gull and Matilda. Puma has shot up in popularity over recent years and has an expansive fuel card system, café and convenience offering, not to mention supplying fuel to various mine sites across the country. In Western Australia, Puma has a partnership with RAC, offering members a 4c per litre discount on fuel. In Queensland, Puma has a similar partnership with RACQ, offering members a 4c per litre discount on fuel. The brand rated just three stars overall this year, with a mixture of three and four stars across the board.
It’s quite rare to find a service station that isn’t connected to a grocery or convenience store these days, but there are still a huge number of Shell-branded servos across 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 earned a mixed bag of results this year, with three stars overall, just two for price, but five for facilities, and a few fours as well.
The final word on petrol stations
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.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have refuelled a vehicle at a service station in Australia in the last month – in this case, 2,170 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.