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Conning the consumer - is today's petrol hike simply unjustified profiteering?

I am stunned to see that the petrol companies have hiked the price of petrol in New Zealand yet again today - making a 10c rise in less than 48 hours. Yesterday's reason was apparently an increase in the cost of refined petrol. At the time of writing nobody has offered a reason for today's lift.  Given that the price of oil is still lower than it has been for some time and is approximately US$10 less than it was a month ago, I can't help thinking that the petrol companies are taking us for a ride (no pun intended).

When the barrel price lifts, the pump price rise is instant.  When the barrel price falls, the pump price fall either doesn't happen or follows quite some time after.  Now the barrel price falls still, but the prices go higher. As for explanations of this behaviour, they are few, far between and sketchy at best. Hardly the transparent and trustworthy environment that large and small businesses are encouraged to adopt if they wish to survive in these trouble times. Most of us are simply left with the feeling that it is all a remarkably successful con trick. Someone, somewhere is making a sharp buck, that's for sure. Either they are oblivious to the reported conditions that we all face and are happy to profiteer at our expense or there is something very wrong with the management of these companies if they are so cavalier with their customers. I'd love to know which it is.

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