Petrol bunk attendants in the City have been scamming distracted customers by pumping in less fuel and pocketing the difference.
Here is how you can make a quick buck. One — get employed as a gas jockey at a fuel station. Two — learn how to distract customers in the most subtle manner possible, thereby ensuring that your scam goes undetected. Three — a setting with the bunk manager will do the rest.
If one were not diligent and aware of their responsibilities as a customer (which include being vigilant and staying focused on the fuel meter), you are very likely to be taken for a ride. While filling fuel, the gas jockeys (fuel attendants) tend to distract you using various diversionary tactics (asking if your payment is by cash or card, whether you would like a service membership, refilling air in tyres). If you don’t pay attention, the amount of fuel being pumped into your vehicle could be far less than what you have asked for.
Normally, the fuel nozzle resets the meter to zero upon filling the required amount. But this works to the advantage of attendants, who easily avoid the statutory “ensure zero before delivery” rule.
Prashant Narayan, a resident of Begumpet says, “ When you ask for `500 worth of petrol, they fill in only `200. If you realise what has happened and question them, they promptly apologise and fill in the remaining amount of `300 of fuel without resetting the fuel meter to zero. Which means, you get fuel filled in from `200 to `300, i.e. only `100, which equals to only `300 of total fuel. With this gimmick, they easily shave `200 off your pocket.”
So how does the scam go undetected? “It happens when there is a long line of vehicles waiting to be filled. Especially if the customer is in a car, they tend to distract you by asking your preferred method of payment or tyre servicing. Sometimes, it happens that the customer does not bother to check the meter because of the heavy rush at the petrol bunks,” says Vinay Sharma, an engineering student.
In a single day recce, over 18 petrol bunks were found indulging in this mischief. What aids these attendants is that a majority of the crowd does not ask for bills after fuelling.
All cash saved through the gimmick goes unaccounted for. Moreover, not many petrol bunks offer complaint boxes or managers who sort out the problem. Once fuel is filled, it is impossible to figure out whether you have been cheated. And before you can raise objections, you are mostly asked to exit because of the huge line behind you.
According to the legal metrology department, 453 cases were booked in Hyderabad in 2010 against fraudulent attendants under the Standards of Weights and Measurements Enforcement Act. Most of these cases were settled out of court as they involved petty disputes over a few hundred rupees and because customers were reluctant to demand justice.
This year, neither the consumer court nor the legal metrology department have seen any such cases filed.
“We have not received any complaints so far regarding this issue but yes, this is a common practice among many to scam customers. They should be careful while the fuel is being filled and should always encourage electronic billing systems that are linked with the fuel pump,” says Krishna Reddy, a fuel pump manager at Tadbund.
Through this scam, attendants make hundreds of rupees everyday by maintaining a clear account of how much petrol they had shaved off customers. It has been witnessed that their “cut” is separately accounted with the managers, who are most often hand-in-glove with them.
Stop the scam
- A customer, Ashwin Siddaramaih, gives tips to avoid being scammed.
- After you stop in front of the pump, get out of the car.
- Stand near the fuel tank & tell the attendant how much fuel you want.
- If the pump has a keypad to enter amount of fuel in litres/value, ask the attendant to punch in the value & not just pump directly.
- Ensure that the meter shows zero. If the attendant is in a hurry,ask him to wait for zero.
- Keep your eyes on the nozzle, ask the attendant to remove his hands from the nozzle since the pump auto stops after punched-in value has been pumped.
- Ensure the value is displayed on the gauge before you pay.
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