The plain truth is that Filling station attendants perpetrate various activities to cheat unsuspecting customers on a daily basis.
If you care to know, here are various ways which the attendants use to cheat customers but first, Why do attendants cheat?
There is no excuse really for such activities but it is mostly claimed that they are one of the least paid employee in Nigeria.
How then do they cheat customers
1. USE OF RECALL OR TIM/CALL BUTTON
On the fuel dispenser there is usually a button labelled ‘Recall, TIM/CAL’ or any other label, depending on the machine. The essence of the button is to enable the attendant to see the past sales.
If you want to see your last ten sales, you just press Recall, then the number you want to see etc, depending on the number you want, and it shows you the amount.
Beyond seeing past sales,petrol attendants use it to cheat and make money from the customers.
For example, if a petrol attendant sold ₦5,000 worth of fuel to (Customer A), and the next customer (Customer B) also wants to buy ₦5,000., the attendant will clear the screen to ₦00.0 and tell Customer B to look at it (A way of gaining your trust and making you relax) then when they observe that the second customer (Customer B) Isn’t paying attention, they will sell some quantity, like ₦3,500 for example and press Stop or Cancel, depending on the machine, then press Recall 1, and Ok,With that, ₦5,000 will appear on the screen and that is what the customer will see on the meter, believing the sale is complete, meanwhile the attendant recalled the previous sale.
My investigations revealed that this can be done in less than one second.
Infact, some attendants could go to the extent of writing out some past sales on a paper where they can easily have a glance to know which number to recall when a customer is distracted or looks away, since many people prefer to buy based on price and not litre.
For example Recall 1 can be ₦5,000, Recall 2 – ₦3,000, Recall 3 – ₦2,000, so based on the customer they want to cheat, they look at the paper to recall, and the customers would think the machine was fast, so they wouldn’t always suspect anything.
2. HANGING THE NOZZLE TRICK
Almost every petrol consumer is knowledgeable that when the nozzle is hanged on the pump, the readings revert to zero. Thus the fuel attendants have also found a way to manipulate it to make some money for their pockets.
What they do is that they gently hang the nozzle, such that it won’t click to rub off the old sales and revert to zero, so,they fake hang the nozzle,while the dispenser is still running, so if a new customer comes, they simply continue from where they stopped from the previous customer.
This trick is used a lot during fuel scarcity, or when customers are in a hurry to buy fuel.
This trick is also easier for the fuel attendant if the last sale was in a small quantity.
3. THE LITTLE QUANTITY AD-ONS
Most times, the Okada and Keke Napep’s tend to buy petrol in small quantities, for example like 2 or 3 Litres of fuel.
After dispensing fuel for the Okada/Keke Napep, if the next buyer intends to buy fuel in his car or a big jerry can, the fuel attendant will use the Okada/Keke Napep advantage, because of the small quantity sold previously and continue to dispense fuel into your car tank without clearing the previous sale.
For example, if the previous sale to an Okada, Keke Napep or even a commercial bus is about ₦350, the fuel attendant will gently place the nozzle, and naturally, when the next customer (The Car owner) sees that the attendant removed the nozzle from the dispensing machine, he believes that it started from zero. However, it is not always the case, thus the car owner is automatically cheated by ₦350.
4. THE FILL UP YOUR TANK TRICK
A report culled from dailyfinance.com says filling up the tank may be another way to lose money and fuel, because when the pump clicks off automatically, no additional fuel enters the tank. “Instead, fuel is likely being diverted through the pump’s vapour recovery system and back into the station’s tank, which means you are paying for petrol that you are not getting.
“More importantly, the car needs space in its tank for fuel vapours to expand. Overfilling can force gas into the car’s carbon filter, leading to poor performance, reduced mileage or costly repairs. So, the next time you want to buy fuel, don’t top off your tank, it’s good for your car and even better for your wallet,” the report said.
5. THE RIGGED ONES
Some petrol pumps have rigged meters that start ticking even before petrol starts to flow from the hose. Have you ever gone to a filling station to buy fuel and it takes lesser time to fill your tank, compared to other places? This is as a result of the meters that have been tampered with, the attendant will make you believe the particular fuel dispenser is faster or slower than normal, depending on how the meters were manipulated.
Nigeria’s petroleum regulator, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) saddled with the responsibility of regulating, monitoring and enforcing the laws in the sector, used the Seraphin Can to expose filling stations involved in the nefarious act in Lagos recently.
The ten-liter Seraphin Can is used by the DPR to ascertain the exact dispensing meter measurement of filling stations. When filled to the level of ten liters, dispensing meters that have been adjusted will show above ten liters on the display board. When this occurs, the filling station is shut by DPR officials.
DPR said over 500 filling stations had been shut for under-dispensing and other related offences.
How do you prevent this fraud.
Always, get off from your car, lock the vehicle and stand close to petrol tank and see the meter readings when buying fuel
Check the meter reading after opening the petrol tank or before fueling starts and again at the very end.Keep a continuous watch at the meter reading and at the fueling person, throughout your turn.
If you develop doubt over a particular petrol pump, then AVOID that particular petrol pump in the future like the plague. I have also seen that there are petrol pumps which do not indulge in such activities.
Identify such pumps and try to fill from these pumps only In any case, don’t believe the attendants and NEVER EVER TAKE YOUR EYES FROM THE METER. Get it set to zero and do not take your eyes off till the last drop comes out of the nozzle.
Ask the attendant firmly to keep his hands off the nozzle and wait for the auto cut-off to kick-in.Park the car a bit away from the machine and let the attendant stretch the pipe to your fuel lid.
Ask him to hold the nozzle at certain height post he is done fueling up the tank in order to allow the residual to flow in.Always check for zero before they start filling, even if the petrol pump is overcrowded.Reduce conversations with the fuel attendant, and if you must talk to him/her, please do it without taking your eyes off the meter for one second.
Also make sure the meter is set at ₦0.00 before the attendants starts to fill up your tank/keg.Do not take your eyes off the meter till the last drop, don’t get distracted by counting the money you want to give him/her, wait till he/she is done dispensing the fuel. End the transaction right there, in case the meter is stopped for any reason. Do not hurry and always pay at the end of the transaction.
Ask for a printed receipt every time, as far as possible.Always keep a watch on the attendant and on the meter.
If you are suspicious about a certain fuel station, step out of your car and ask the attendant to move away from the dispenser while filling. If you still feel that he is cheating stop him from filling your tank and call the manager and lodge your complain. If nobody at the station admits their fraud or deny any assistance, reach out to DPR.
As you visit the filling station today, always remember The Golden Rule: Never take your eyes off the meter.