Fuel. Why is the TotalEnergies rebate wreaking havoc in France?

Fuel.  Why is the TotalEnergies rebate wreaking havoc in France?

Since September 1, for motorists, it’s a bit like a black gold rush. As shown by the lines of cars that lengthen in French service stations, since fuel prices fell sharply after months of inflation. A real boost to the wallet thanks to the effect of new rebate from the government and that of a distributor, TotalEnergieswhose stations are taken overto the point of being in fuel shortage. But in competing stations, gas station attendants feel aggrieved.

Queues in the stations, rebates at the pump, disgruntled independent gas station attendants… We explain to you why the Total rebate is causing havoc in France.

Read also: Energy crisis. What to remember from Emmanuel Macron’s speech

Discounts that accumulate

We knew the date in the calendar. September 1 was marked by the increase by the government of the fuel discount from 18 to 30 euro cents including tax per liter in mainland France (28.25 euro cents including tax per liter in Corsica and 25 euro cents including tax per liter in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Reunion and Mayotte). Exceptional help to support motorists in the face of rising prices for months.

Added to this more than welcome increase is that of the French gas and oil giant TotalEnergies which has decided to apply a pump discount of 20 cents per liter in September and October at all its service stations, then 10 cents per liter in November and December.

Total’s gesture is a response to the government’s request, which had called on the oil group to step up its efforts to participate in the fight against inflation, deeming the gestures made so far insufficient.

Rush at stations, including at borders

As a result of this double discount, motorists flock to Total stations to take advantage of a less expensive full while prices, especially of food, soar with inflation. “It’s madness”thus dropped the cashier ofa Total Access service station in Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) Thursday 1 September with Ocean Press. “Since the opening this morning, it hasn’t stopped. I’ve never seen that. We have long queues”.

Motorists thus note gains of several tens of euros on their invoice, as a resident of Couvains (Manche) testified to West France : “We had waited this morning to refuel our two vehicles […]. That still saves €30 per fill-up! ».

Border stations are the envy of neighboring countries. The Alsatian stations, in particular, thus receive many German customers, as in Strasbourg where on September 1, the SP95, for example, was at €2.10 on the German side, against €1.46 on the French side. “It’s much cheaper here, it’s drastic, look at the prices on the other side of the border! »testified a German to France Blue .

Same strategic choice for Belgians, who do not hesitate to cross the border to refuel in France. In Maubeuge (Nord), a town located ten kilometers from the border post, near Valenciennes, long queues were also observed, reports Télésambre . “I drove an hour to come here and frankly, the trip is worth it, especially since I take the opportunity to do my food shopping”testified a Belgian motorist.

“Here, it’s 15 cents different from the pumps in Belgium. It’s funny. Before, it was you French people who came to us to fill up. Now it’s the other way around.”notes another Belgian interviewed on Monday by The voice of the North, in a Total station in Chapelle d’Armentières (North), near Lille.

Diesel fuel rupture

Total stations robbed, some already experiencing shortages. Arriving at many of the oil giant’s stations, motorists are thus forced to turn back. Access to the pumps is prevented by traffic cones or signs “out of fuel, please excuse us” are attached to it.

This is the case in Fougères (Ille-et-Vilaine), near Rennes, where a TotalEnergies gas station was dry from the first day of the implementation of the double rebate. “We have never seen that”testifies the manager to West France.

Motorists had to take their troubles patiently also in a station of the group in Châteaubriant which faced the same problem.

Slingshot of competitors

But this rush to Total stations irritates competitors. On franceinfo the president of the Fuel Distributors and New Energies branch of the Mobilians union, Francis Pousse, denounces “a fairness issue” for independent gas stations, reporting that “attendance has dropped from minus 30 to minus 40% in three days”.

Owner of an Esso station in Arnage (Sarthe), he believes that “it’s the coup de grace” for independent pump attendants. “The pump or two fuel pumps that are essential in rural areas are at risk of disappearing in the short term because the station operators are already maintaining this activity with the margins of what works, such as their garage activity, to finance the station”deplores the representative, who calls on the government to “a real solution”.

As for the major distributors, the boss of the Leclerc group, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, also asked that distributors who buy from Total also benefit from the rebate of 20 cents. “I wrote to Mr. Pouyanné, the boss of Totalhe said on franceinfo . We ask that he give us the conditions to be able to sell 20 cents less […]. He says he gives a 20 cents discount to all his customers but he gives a 20 cents discount only to his network customers, not to our network customers”he lamented, pointing out that his fuel also comes from TotalEnergies. “Leclerc customers, Carrefour customers, Avia customers, customers of small pump attendants, who sell Total, who are supplied by Total, must be in the promise of Mr. Pouyanné”.

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