Uber and DiDi stick to fuel surcharges, even as excise is slashed

DiDi uber

Rideshare providers Uber and DiDi are not planning to remove or reduce temporary fuel surcharges, even after the federal budget cut 22 cents per litre from the cost of filling a tank.

In March, both global giant Uber and smaller competitor DiDi introduced a temporary per-km fuel surcharge, designed to help driver partners manage the increase in fuel prices.

A statement from Uber suggested the average cost of a trip would likely increase by 50 cents.

DiDi’s surcharge was implemented for 60 days, from March 21, and added 6 cents per km to the cost of a ride.

In Tuesday’s federal budget speech, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed the fuel excise will be halved to 22.1 cents per litre, for six months.

The cut came into effect at midnight on Tuesday, just hours after the speech.

But according to a report in The Daily Telegraph, neither business is now planning on reducing or removing these fuel surcharges.

At the time of writing, neither Uber nor DiDi has responded to a request for comment.

In his speech, Frydenberg specifically noted that the government will be keeping an eye out to make sure the fuel excise savings are passed on to consumers, saying: “The competition watchdog will monitor retailers to make sure these savings are passed on in full.”

Consumer Action Law Centre chief executive Gerard Brody has reportedly called on the ACCC to investigate the rideshare providers, suggesting the businesses may be misrepresenting their reasons for imposing the surcharge.

“If Uber and DiDi are saying that the reason for the surcharge is the high cost of fuel, at a time when fuel excise is being cut, then this is something that the ACCC should investigate,” he reportedly said.

In a statement earlier this week, new ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said the commission expects fuel retailers to pass on the cost savings, “to reduce the price at the bowser as soon as possible”.

When exactly that could be, however, remains to be seen. A report in The Guardian suggests that motorists could be waiting weeks to see the benefits of the change, as servos get through their existing stocks of fuel — stocks that were subject to the full excise.

Cass-Gottleib also noted that it could take a little while for savings to be realised, saying the readjustment would likely happen more quickly in capital cities, where turnover is typically higher.

“We will contact petrol retailers to set out our clear expectations that the savings are passed on to consumers and advise them that we will be monitoring their margins,” Cass-Gottleib added.

Elsewhere, Labor Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers has suggested the Coalition is merely kicking the can down the road, delaying finding a solution to the fuel pricing problem until September 2022.

“There’ll be some cost-of-living relief in the interim but there’ll be a difficult period when the price of fuel goes back up,” Chalmers said.

Rob Hango-Zada, chief executive of Aussie delivery service Shippit, told SmartCompany it will be businesses who absorb the cost in the short term.

He called for a longer-term strategy to follow short-term excise cuts.

“These costs hit retailers’ bottom lines,” he said.

“In the end, they’re faced with a lose-lose decision to either absorb the costs themselves or pass them on to their customers, placing more pressure on an already critical cost-of-living crisis.”

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