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Boycotting services

  • Among the most expensive places to shop
  • Find out the figures, here
  • How to beat the rip-off prices
Words ByWhat Car? Staff

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Boycotting services
Theres no question that motorway services are ripping off drivers, but motorists must take some of the blame for actually paying the exorbitant prices. Plan your journey carefully and you might be surprised how easy it is to save cash. One way is to avoid spending anything at all at service areas.

To do this, of course, youll want to join the motorway with plenty of fuel to get where youre going. If thats not possible, plan roughly where youll need to fill-up, and where you might fancy a bite to eat or a coffee, for less cash.

The websites 5minutesaway.co.uk and Offmotorway.com are handy tools for sniffing out fuel and food close to motorway junctions.

Admittedly, thats still a faff on long journeys. If you want an even easier life, there are other ways to save. AA members, for example, get a 20% discount in most shops at Moto services, including Costa Coffee, WH Smith, Burger King, Eat & Drink Co. and the Moto Shop. The little-publicised deal could actually mean you pay less than high street prices for many items.

Walkers crisps (34g)
WH Smith high street
69p
WH Smith motorway price
79p
Motorway mark-up
14.5%M&S large sausage roll
M&S Simply Food high street
1.00
M&S Simply Food mway price
1.15
Motorway mark-up
15.0%
The website Myvouchercodes.co.uk usually has discount vouchers for Roadchef and Moto service stations, and Welcome Break lists its special offers at Welcomebreak.co.uk/offers.

Unfortunately there arent any discounts available on fuel, so if you want to save here you will need to pull off the motorway.

Water rip-off!
Nearly everything at a motorway services costs more than it should, but the mark-up on bottled water is simply huge a 750ml bottle can set you back nearly twice as much as it would on the high street. So, whats going on? Is motorway services water blessed by the gods? Nope, its exactly the same stuff, only priced a lot higher.

Here are three examples:

Buxton 750ml
WH Smith motorway services price: 1.91
WH Smith high street price: 1.00
Motorway mark-up: 91%

Vittel 750ml
WH Smith motorway services price: 1.98
WH Smith high street price: 1.45
Motorway mark-up: 37%

M&S Still Scottish water
Motorway services price: 1.00
High street price: 80p
Motorway mark-up: 25%

What Car? says
Motorway services get away with charging such exorbitant prices only because enough drivers pay them. Service stations may have expensive overheads, but they also take advantage of limited competition and a captive market. While prices remain at the high levels highlighted by our research, wed recommend drivers shop elsewhere or take advantage of some of the offers mentioned.