Compare petrol and service stations Puma Energy, Metro Petroleum, Liberty, Costco, United Petroleum, 7-Eleven, BP, Woolworths Caltex, Shell, Caltex and Coles Express on their price of petrol, appearance & cleanliness, service, convenience, facilities, range of other items and overall satisfaction.
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, or having a bad experience time after time.
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 2,100 motorists across Australia to seek their feedback on the petrol station 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, customer service, convenience, facilities, 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?
Puma Energy has taken out top spot in our petrol and service station ratings for 2020, knocking 7-Eleven off the podium. It received five stars in most categories, including the most important of all, overall satisfaction.
This year, 11 petrol and service stations featured in our customer review, rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
Metro Petroleum, Liberty, Costco, United Petroleum, 7-Eleven and BP all scored four stars for overall customer satisfaction, while Woolworths Caltex, Shell, Caltex and Coles Express Shell were left on three stars apiece. Other noteworthy results this year include Metro Petroleum and Costco both earning five stars for price of petrol, while 7-Eleven was the only chain to score five stars for range of non-car items for sale.
To help you decide which servo may be worth a visit, here is an overview of the 11 brands in this year’s review.
A relative newcomer to the Aussie fuel market, Puma Energy is a company that also owns various ‘independent’ service stations such as Neumann Petroleum, Ausfuel Gull and Matilda. Puma has shot up in popularity in recent years, and has an expansive fuel card system, café and convenience offering, not to mention supplying fuel to various mining sites across the country. In Western Australia, Puma enjoys a partnership with RAC, offering club members a 4c per litre discount on fuel. In Queensland, Puma has a similar partnership with RACQ, offering members the same 4c per litre discount on fuel.
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 offers 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 expanded to around 200 locations today. 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.
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.
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 $55 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 the 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 close to 40 wholesale Costco stores across Australia, of which eight have petrol stations.
United Petroleum was established in 1993 in South Australia and later expanded to service Victoria, NSW, ACT and QLD. Being 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 over 400 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.
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 from 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.
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.
Not to be confused with regular old Caltex service stations, Woolworths’ fuel locations also use Caltex fuels, but aim to give you that ‘Woolies experience’ by offering other services such as car washes and groceries at the majority of locations. Woolworths Caltex has over 500 locations across the country, and with its well-known shopper docket discount program. 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.
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.
Short for the ‘California Texas Oil Company’, Caltex boasts a strong presence in Australia, although motorists may soon notice a change, as Caltex will soon rebrand to Ampol. Caltex is known for its ‘Vortex’ series of 98-octane fuels which have an engine-cleaning additive – along with rust and foam inhibitors – to keep your engine ticking along nicely, in addition to the StarCard, which can help you save on petrol and other goodies when you stop to fill up.
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.
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. Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) said that the cost of fuel is a major strain on their finances, down from 39% in our last survey. However, many customers are not exactly helping themselves, with 29% admitting that they usually fill up at the same petrol station regardless of the price. Some are more proactive at chasing lower prices than others – 23% have an app that allows them to monitor fuel prices and 27% 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. To help you find a cheaper price the next time you’re running on empty, the ACCC updates its price cycle website on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, although also states that which days are the cheapest for petrol can change from cycle to cycle. For those in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, it may be best to find out which stage of the price cycle you’re in, while those in Perth have it a bit easier, with Mondays typically the cheapest day due to a more predictable pricing cycle.
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. Here is a summary of the key findings from our survey in 2020.
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.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Content Projects Lead, Dean Heckscher. He’s our resident expert on all things automotive, health & fitness, streaming and more. Dean is also one of Canstar Blue’s customer research report producers, helping to turn complicated subjects into easily-digestible information for our readers. He’s passionate about helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services.
Picture credits: intararit/shutterstock.com (infographic), VGstockstudio/shutterstock.com
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 motor vehicle at a service station in the last 1 month – in this case, 2,151 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 by mean overall satisfaction. 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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