The sad delight of stopping at a motorway service station - and how to avoid paying £2 per litre

It is perhaps indicative of the empty life of the un-rounded individual that one of the pleasures I enjoy is so facile – but not entirely silly.

Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:50 pm

I derive sad delight from pulling into a motorway service station, stretching the old legs, using the facilities, then driving on without spending a bean.

This behaviour is yet to instigate revolution, but it feels good; well, to me. Especially when fuel prices are becoming so silly.

I have often wondered who could possibly be inveigled by a Scotch egg, tin of shortbread or fir tree-shaped air freshener at prices so steep as to be almost vertical.

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Fuel prices are displayed at a BP garage at Washington services on the A1 near Tyne and Wear. Picture date: Tuesday June 7, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TRANSPORT Fuel. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

However, with fuel it’s different. If you need it and if a motorway service station is all that’s on offer, you’ll pay.

The Sunderland Echo recently reported on a local filling station, on a motorway of course, selling fuel for 20p per litre more than other stations a mile away.

Fuel companies don’t set oil prices, or fuel duty. Nor can they control global events which force their costs upwards. But this still fails to explain the gap in prices between adjacent businesses selling the same product.

So why is anyone paying over £2 a litre? Most petrol and diesel cars will do 400-500 miles on open road, which would get you from Berwick to Brighton without stopping.

It isn't difficult. Buying fuel from local filling stations like this one, rather than on the motorway, saves money.

Few of the road trips taken on this island require more than a tank. A few do, but even a John O’Groats to Lands End drive can avoid whopping motorway service prices by swinging into Lancaster, which is about half-way.

My advice is simple. I recently drove to London, parking at Stanmore which is the last stop on the Jubilee line. I filled up at home and did the same in Stanmore, thereby saving a fair bit on fuel.

My only motorway service station stops either way were for the aforementioned free ablutions.

This is simple stuff, so why do so many people not benefit themselves by doing likewise. Why are they knowingly parting with money they don’t need to?

Think about where you buy. It won’t bring sweeping and immediate change. But it’s a start – and a message.

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