Shopper dockets in the AFR

Today’s Australian Financial Review has another profile of the ACCC’s petrol inquiry (which begins today) and, once again, it focuses on the issue of shopper dockets. One of my submissions to the inquiry was on this issue. The AFR refers to my earlier work with Stephen King, now an ACCC Commissioner on the inquiry. The AFR quotes me as saying:

“What we were worried about is would it lead to higher petrol prices at the petrol pump,” Gans says now. He says they wondered of Shell and Caltex would be able to push up the headline price higher. Prospective customers could see price at 98c at Mobil but $1 at Shell and go to the Shell outlets. “Basically we thought that what would happen was not a real discount,” he says.

“They can try to tease out what the effect of the shopper dockets has been. It may well be that [they] were like a marketing gimmick and Coles paid for market share to come to them. But the economic logic tells us that probably wasn’t the case. Australia is the land of oligopolies. I don’t think anybody has been meeting in smoke-filled rooms. But there are other ways that prices can be co-ordinated.”

The Inquiry represents a huge opportunity for the ACCC to put the shopper docket issue under appropriate analysis and resolve the issue once and for all. Let’s hope they do it.

See also this piece in The Epoch Times.