INDEPENDENT fuel retailers have slammed suggestions that they are gouging motorists with exorbitant petrol prices.
The response comes after Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania spokesman Vince Taskunas claimed last week that fuel retailers were ripping customers off in the lead-up to Christmas.
Tony Lowish, whose family has owned and run Jim's Car Care Centre at Prospect Vale for more than 40 years, rejected the comments.
``We're certainly not making a huge amount per litre of fuel, and we're not overcharging whatsoever,'' he said.
Mr Lowish said the cost price for fuel had been steadily increasing during the past two months, slashing money from his bottom line.
``We've been leaving our prices down and absorbing the difference to try and remain competitive,'' he said.
Early last week, Mr Taskunas called for independent fuel retailers to plunge their prices over Christmas and the New Year.
He said instigating discount wars would win customers back from the big fuel retailers.
``A lot of money has been made out of petroleum products this year,'' Mr Taskunas said.
``Retailers should spread the cheer around. Cheap fuel would be a fantastic Christmas present for Tassie motorists.''
Mr Lowish said he was focused on simply keeping within range of his competitors' prices.
He said huge discounts offered by the retail giants were making it hard to stay afloat.
``We're struggling to match their prices, even before discount coupons entered the equation,'' he said.
Mr Lowish said LPG gas was ``an even worse scenario''.
``The price of gas has shot up in the past few weeks,'' he said.
``My suppliers are trying to charge me more per litre than what the bigger retailers are selling it for.
``I'll have to advertise my gas for about 20 a litre more than they do, which I can't see selling too well.''
Mr Lowish said his regular customers were not interested in shopper dockets.
``The people that come here aren't interested in saving a few cents here and there,'' he said.
``They're here to support small family businesses working hard to survive and make ends meet.''