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Darren Kruse
Darren Kruse, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 16
Experience:  Practising in in Personal Injury, Workcover, Civil Disputes, Family, Wills and Estates and Criminal law.
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Hi there....My wife and I own (nearly 19 years) and operate

Resolved Question:

Hi there....My wife and I own (nearly 19 years) and operate a BP Service Station/Roadhouse in Country Queensland , Australia. We have control over all but the fuel pumps which are owned by BP and, for reasons that only BP know they will not upgrade the PUMPS or, even fix the non working ones (2 nozzles) until we sign a 40 page agreement to buy fuel off them in the future. In the past 19 years we have always bought from them except on a couple of occassions when they could not deliver and we needed fuel, so we bought from wherever we could get the fuel. We pay our fuel account to them every week.
We would like to know how they can hold us to ransom on this matter, surely this is bribery and should not be permitted in the business world. Our HIGH FLOW (truck) Diesel pump is that old that I think it came out "on the ARK".
We could change fuel suppliers/brand but, why should we have to do this. BP is a well known brand and we would prefer to stay with it, if we could.
All correspondence/conversations to BP/Reliance Petroleum just end up with the answer "you sign the paperwork and we will replace the pumps".
Is this sort of standover tactics permitted in the Australian business world.

Thanks...............Wayne
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  Darren Kruse replied 3 years ago.

section52 :

Hi Wayne, presumably there is a seperate contract already in place for BP to service the pumps. If there is, you could simply enforce the terms of that contract that I assume includes an obligation on BP to service/maintain the pumps. That contract cannot be exclusive or tied to the supply of petrol because you have bought petrol from other suppliers in the past.

section52 :

I would be interested to see the pumps contract.

section52 :

With regard to BP's not upgrading the pumps unless you sign a 40 page contract to buy fuel from them (presumably exclusively !) in the future, this may well be a case of "third line forcing." The classic third line forcing scenario occurs where a supplier forces the purchase of a second product or service from a nominated supplier. For example, where a lender of finance insists that a borrower use a particular insurance company to insure a loan or where a car dealer selling a car requires the purchaser to obtain finance from a nominated finance company.

section52 :

Third line forcing is illegal anticompetitive conduct under the Competition and Consumer Act (this used to be called the Trade Practices Act) ; see http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/816377 .

section52 :

You should look closely at the pump's contract and the propsed 40 page fuel contract. They may in fact be from different companies. If that is the case, then these tactics may well be illegal third line forcing. The ACCC will be interested to hear about this - call thier infocentre on 1300 302 502

section52 :


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Darren Kruse, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 16
Experience: Practising in in Personal Injury, Workcover, Civil Disputes, Family, Wills and Estates and Criminal law.
Darren Kruse and other Australia Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Darren Kruse replied 3 years ago.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your reply. I have no knowledge of a Pumps Contract and when I/we first bought this place we were dealing with another BP Distributor and we are now on our 6th (I think) distributor. BP just keeps changing them. Would you care to peruse the Contract they now want me to sign.....I know there will be costs but, it may be to our benefit.

If interested, do you want to give me a contact address where it can be posted to.

My mobile telephone is 04 09 492504 and my email address is XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX

I don't know if I am permitted to contact or ask these sort of things of you.

Regards.....................Wayne

Expert:  Darren Kruse replied 3 years ago.
Looking at the proposed fuel contract won't help. I'm sure it's a very comprehensive contract that has been pored over by many BP lawyers - I've seen similar ones from other petrol suppliers in a previous matter.

You say that the the pumps are owned by BP, but that there is no contract covering their maintenance and that BP refuses to maintain the pumps unless you sign a new (presumably exclusive) fuel supply contract.

The lack of a pump contract will make it difficult to prove third line forcing, but not impossible. I assume that BP have in the past maintained the pumps. A contract need not be written. but can be formed by conduct. There must be consideration given as well - ie when the pumps have been maintained in the past this may have been at BP's expense or yours ?

I cannot give advice on the specifics of your matter, but only on general principles and recommendations. I am also prohibited from "soliciting Users of this Site, including Experts, for any purpose (including inviting other Users to contact [me] off of the Site" ;

So, I think that in the circumstances the best move for you would be to firstly contact the ACCC armed with the details we have discussed and then likely follow up with a local lawyer - depending on what the ACCC tell you.

Of course the non legal way to get around this is to one by one remove the "BP pumps" from your property and replace them with your own. You haven't said what is preventing you from doing that.

I'm sorry I can't assist you any further at this stage.

Thanks for the feedback and the accept.
darren.





Darren Kruse, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 16
Experience: Practising in in Personal Injury, Workcover, Civil Disputes, Family, Wills and Estates and Criminal law.
Darren Kruse and other Australia Law Specialists are ready to help you

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