Thursday, April 21, 2005

Here's a lot of Gas!

Why can't we have more self-service filling stations in this country? The way things currently stand, everyone is out to pull a fast one on you.

There is one particular gas station, on the way to my college, which I have always been suspicious of. I therefore normally refrain from filling from there; but today since my tank was bone dry and it was on the way, I decided to stop there.

As I drew my motor-cycle up to the pump, the attendant had just finished filling up another motor-cycle. The previous customer's total came to Rs 40 and I had wanted to fill in Rs 200 worth. The setting was perfect, and the attendant saw it.

There were two of them. One to fill up the vehicle and the other to collect the money. Let's call them Pete and Joe, shall we? So Pete looks at Joe, and they tacitly come to an agreement that I look like easy meat. Hah!

Joe tries to divert my attention away from the reading on the pump. "Instead of 200 if you fill in Rs 210 worth, you'll get an even 5 litres."

Pete meanwhile, is deperatetly seeking an oppurtunity to insert the filling hose into my tank without resetting the meter. Fully aware of what is happening, I try to keep my eyes glued to the meter. I tell Joe, without looking at him, that I only have 200 bucks on me so we'll have to settle for that.

By now the filling hose is almost into my tank, and the meter has not yet been reset. They try one last ploy. Joe asks me to move my bike slightly ahead. I could see no reason for this, since there was no one behind me, other than to distract my attention from the meter. I move it ahead without averting my gaze. Finally, sensing futility they decide enough is enough. Pete resets the meter and proceeds to fill the tank.

Now since I was on top of the situation at all times, I got through unscathed. But a more innocent soul would, in the same situation, have been easily cheated. So my advice to you is to ALWAYS ensure the meter is reset before the attendant starts filling. I'm sure you've heard it plenty of times before, but it's surprising how quickly they can work. The hand is definitely faster than the eye in this case, and all it takes is a slight distraction for half a second.

There's an interesting counter-attack strategy that I've come up with. Fight fire with fire, and deviousness with deviousness. The trick is to pretend that you're not paying attention, when you actually are. So after he starts filling without resetting the meter, you wait for a few seconds and then protest. You accuse him of not starting from zero and demand that he fill it again from zero. This way you get extra gas, since he has already filled some into your tank before you yelled out. One important thing to ensure is that he did indeed try to cheat you in the first place, or you could just land yourself in some trouble. I think I'll try it the next time.

Another matter that irks me to no end is that at the older pumps, which do not have the facility to set the amount automatically, the attendant always stops a little lower than the amount mentioned. For example, if I ask him to fill in Rs 100 worth, he only gives me something like 99.67! This, though not a big deal, irritates me. If I'm paying Rs 100, then he can jolly well stop at 100. If he's so clumsy, put in a little more than 100 and I won't complain. But don't stop below it. I have half a mind to hand him Rs 99.50 the next time. If he's going to round off downwards, then so can I!

I feel the situation can drastically improve with the initiation of more self-service pumps. They're already in existence in most other countries, so why not this one? Get rid of the middle-man altogether, eh! What say?


Aditya Bidikar said...

Same thing happened to me. Twice. Once I got fooled by a pump on Karve Road. It was 2 o'clock in the night, and he gave me petrol worth Rs. 50 when I paid Rs. 120. Same technique.

Another time, I was in a car with a cousin, and he filled petrol worth Rs. 1000. The attendant didn't see me in the car, and tried to fill petrol worth just Rs. 500 (the car before us had filled the same amount), but I noticed, and we complained, and hey gave us the right amount.

Great blog, BTW. Please check out my website.

Arnold said...

these guys are swine... no doubt about it!!