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Motorway service areas still a 'rip-off', says charity

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Motorway Service Areas are charging up to four times the high street price for basic food and drinks, according to research conducted by road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). 

Such examples include a 500ml bottle of water cost £2.09 (95 pence on the high street in London) while the cheapest cheese sandwich cost £3.99).   

On the high street, the everyday shopper can expect to pay 25 per cent less than a service area user. At a popular high street newsagent, a standard size Mars bar costs £0.79 and a pack of Walkers crisps is priced at £0.95).

Motorists are dissatisfied with the value for money available at Motorway Service Areas but are left with little choice when making long trips around the country.  When asked to rate the price of food and drinks at Motorway Service Areas, more than half of respondents (51%) rated them unreasonable.

The survey also found that sixty-five per cent of respondents are most likely only to stop at Motorway Service Areas just to use the toilet facilities.

Price comparisons include:

  • A medium white coffee - £3.09 (£2.10 London high street)
  • A standard sized Mars bar - £0.95 (£0.79 London high street)
  • A pack of Walkers crisps – £1.05 (£0.95 London high street)
  • 500ml bottle of water £2.09 (£0.95 London high street)
  • A basic cheese sandwich - £3.99 (£1.00 local high street)

Fifty-four per cent of respondents consider the price of petrol at Motorway Service Areas unreasonable.

With petrol prices averaging about ten pence per litre more than at off-motorway forecourts, the IAM is calling for a complete review of motorway prices, together with filling stations being forced to advertise their and their competitors fuel prices, as is the case in France.

The research also revealed that from one Motorway Service Area to the next, the price of petrol can vary by up to 10p per litre.

Cost of petrol per in pence per litre:

  • Hopwood Park M4 – 144.90 (132.9 off motorway)
  • Corley M6 – 144.90  (131.9 off motorway)
  • Michaelwood M5 – 142.90 (135.9 off motorway)
  • Strensham M5 – 142.90 (133.0 off motorway)
  • Pont Abraham, Wales M4 – 141.90 (133.9 off motorway)
  • Forton M6 – 141.90 (133.9 off motorway)
  • Sarn Park M4 – 133.90  (131.7 off motorway)
  • Heston Services M4 - 144.90 (132.8 off motorway)
  • UK average at supermarkets £1.31

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Motorway Service Areas are supposed to be for motorists eat, drink and freshen up. It’s very important to have a break every two hours and these costs will put people off stopping. Tired motorists pose a danger to themselves and other road users.”

“17,000 people every year break down on the motorway simply because they have run out of fuel, which can cause lane closures and delays for everyone.  High petrol prices will put people off filling up.  Forcing stations to advertise their competitors’ prices would drive costs down.”

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  • Gaffs - 04/07/2013 17:47

    Ha ha - UK average at supermarkets £1.31 - still plays a major part in 'rip off Britain' when is the motorist going to stop being the easy target ??

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