Motorway service stations charging 'rip-off' prices for snacks and drinks

A motorway sign indicating an exit for the services. Photo: Getty
A motorway sign indicating an exit for the services. Photo: Getty

Motorists are being “ripped off” when they stop at motorway service stations to stock up on snacks and drinks for their journey, according to an investigation.

Stopping at motorway service stations can cost shoppers up to 158% more for food and drink, research by Admiral Insurance found.

And a bottle of water costs almost four times more than what it does in a supermarket.

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Admiral recruited a team of mystery shoppers to scout the cost of a basket of items from 21 service stations across the UK, compared with supermarket prices.

The basket contained a cheese sandwich, refrigerated sausage roll, packet of ready salted Walkers crisps, packet of wine gums, bar of Dairy Milk chocolate, Coke and bottle of water.

It found motorists are paying on average 117% more for the same goods compared with supermarket prices.

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Getting the motorway munchies will hit motorists hardest in the north of the UK, the study found.

Durham services was home to the most expensive basket of sweet and savoury snacks and drinks. At £16.21 the same basket of goods cost almost £10 more than the average supermarket price of £6.89.

Both Lancaster and Woolley Edge services ranked as the second most expensive services, both coming in at £16.17 for the same items.

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Heart of Scotland services was the cheapest place to stop for snacks on a motorway, where motorists would spend £9.31 for the same basket of items. This is £2.42 more than the average supermarket, and £6.90 – or 43% – less than Durham.

Sausage rolls were the most expensive item in the mystery shoppers’ baskets, costing £2.69 at four service stations – Durham on the A1, Bothwell on the M74, Magor on the M4 and Sedgemoor on the M5.

However, at the Heart of Scotland services on the M8, a pack of sausage rolls cost just 80p – a difference of 236%

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Meanwhile, bag of wine gums costing a mouth-puckering £3.29 in the south-east, compared to a “slightly sweeter” £2.69 in Scotland.

But shoppers would be better off simply hitting the supermarket – where they can get a bag of the sweets for just £1 – before they hit the road.