The issue of people getting scammed at different petrol pumps across Pakistan is nothing new. But in recent years, more and more cases are surfacing on internet, which raises the question of check & balance on this sort of situation and the awareness of consumer law in the country. If one were to sit down and research on these fraudulent incidences, then eventually they will just come across the PakWheels forums, where many people have shared their stories of getting scammed at different petrol pumps across the country.
So, the question still remains “What are the most obvious methods of scams at petrol Stations?”
As it turns out, I have shortlisted a few of the most commonly occurring scenarios (Personal Experiences), surfing through PakWheels forums and a chat with a petrol pump attendant.
1: The tango trick (Manual Turnover)
So, what is this tango trick (manual turnover)? The answer to this question is pretty simple.
This is how the scam happens:
You go to a petrol station and ask the attendant to fill in the petrol against ‘X’ rupees. The attendant then sets the meter and asks you to check the ‘Zero’ (The key word here is ‘Legitimacy’). The attendant then starts filling up and your eyes are glued to the meter. And suddenly you find a voice “SAAR! Vaper Laga Dun” and that’s goodbyes to your concentration level. Your shocked self takes a panicked look at this voice and manages to stammer out a reply in ‘hain… Han Han laga do’ (Or something along these lines). By now, the meter has completed its run and the magic has happened.
The point of concern is the meter’s normal pace while you are looking at it and when your attention is diverted, the meter goes super-sonic (speed) and completes its run.
2: The ‘No Click’ Trick
The times of manual nozzles have gone (When you had to keep pressing the trigger to allow the fuel flow). Now, majority of the fuel pumps are equipped with automated nozzles. During this compilation of petrol pump tricks, my knight in shining armour appeared in the form of a petrol Pump attendant, who was kind enough to point a few of their tricks. So, coming back to this trick, the auto nozzles have a trigger lock, which when triggered, stays on till there is flow of fuel in the pipe and automatically pops off when the fuel flow stops. On paper, everything seems fine and fault proof. But there is a little technical issue, which my Petrol attendant (friend) pointed out to me.
Here is how this trick works:
You ask the attendant to fill petrol against ‘X’ rupees in your vehicle and the attendant asks you to check the ‘zero’ on the meter. He inserts the nozzle in the petrol tank and sets the trigger on. You are watching the meter and no-one steps in to distract you. Eventually, the meter stops running and the fuel attendant takes out the nozzle carefully. You are happy because nobody interrupted you and saw the meter complete its run. But the magic has already happened.
Well, the bottom line is that the fuel attendant is supposed to take off his hands after setting the auto-lock on the nozzle and only touch it again once there is an audible ‘click’, which indicates the pumping process has stopped. There is a time-lag of 3-4 seconds between the click and meter stoppage. The pump keeps sending the fuel in these few seconds because it has to empty all the fuel in the (nozzle to pump) connecting tube and the meter has already billed you for it. But, since many of us don’t know about it, we never take the hands of the attendant in to account and keep watching the meter. And as soon as the meter stops, the attendant manually overrides the auto-trigger and switches the nozzle off (While some of the fuel is still in the fuel tube). He calmly and carefully places the nozzle back in its holder. This maneuvering is to make sure that all the trapped fuel is sent back to the tanker.
More importantly, a fuel attendant can siphon off 50-100 ml fuel per filling.
3: Old is gold
If there was ever a book published on petrol pump trickery, then this trick will be featured in the all-time-best because of its occurrence. Okay, so this technique is basically the continuation of the meter run, without resetting it for a new filling.
Here is how this trick works:
You go to a filling station and ask the fuel attendant to fill the petrol against ‘X’ price. And they will try to engage you in a conversation or distract you from looking at the meter. And in just a few seconds (While you are distracted), when you turn your attention back to the meter, magic has already happened and you will be none the wiser of any mishap.
This trick is also fairly simple and common these days.
Here is how this trick works:
You go to a petrol station and ask them to fill up the petrol against (let’s say) 1000 rupees. And the fuel attendant starts filling up and stops at 200. When you ask, them you asked for fuel fill up of 1000 rupees, they will reply back with an excuse of not hearing you (or something along these lines). They will try to divert your attention or try to block your vision of the meter. Once your attention is successfully diverted the fuel attendant will start the meter without resetting it and will probably stop at 800 rupees. Once you point out the figure, they will reply back “Sir, I set the meter at zero for after the first time fueling of 200 rupees and so this time I added 800 rupees only”.
I am sure that there will be tons of other scenarios, unique tricks or derivation of these techniques, which have been employed by petrol pump attendants to scam the consumers. But (I believe) here are some of the fundamental ways in which you can avoid these sorts of tricks.
- Always check ‘zero’ on the meter, even if the petrol pump is overcrowded
- Ask the petrol attendant to step aside from the meter (for the increased visibility)
- (Preferably) Step outside of your car and stand near the fuel attendant
- Ignore any disturbances of other fuel attendants (etc), who try to talk to you at petrol pumps. (Just have an eye on the meter)
- Just because you are in a hurry, do not hand off the money while the meter is still running
- Even if the petrol attendant asks you to check the ‘zero’ on the meter (And you check it). Make sure it remains ‘zero’ until the nozzle is inserted and the auto-nozzle has been switched on
- If you are with your family or prefer to sit in the car, keep a lookout at the meter during fueling and a pay close attention to the hands of fuel attendant while refueling
- Whenever the meter is stopped pre-maturely while fueling. Pay close attention to the meter and do not loose contact. As the fuel attendants, will try to divert your attention
- Try to get your refill in liters (Not in Rupees)
As I mentioned before, there might be a lot of circumstances which might have been left out during the compilation of these tricks. So, I would really appreciate if someone can share their experiences. Because by bringing forward these experiences, we can spread this knowledge.