The simple solution to petrol driveoffs.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 10-Dec-2008 21:35

Anybody who has a car will know that petrol driveoffs have become a real issue over the past year as fuel prices have increased. Go to fill up these days and it's not uncommon to find the pumps on prepay forcing you to pay for your fuel first to stop people filling up and driving off without paying.

The issue of prepaying for fuel was discussed earlier this week on Campbell Live, it seems that many stations are wanting to hold your credit card inside at the till if you choose to fill your tank, since they have no way of knowing exactly how much this will cost. This causes significant customer inconvenience while you stand in line, hand over your card, go outside, fill your own car (since chains like BP don't have forecourt staff), join the queue again and pay for your gas. Not only does this take time it exposes you to the risk of fraud due to the ability of staff to capture your credit card details or duplicate a card. Under no circumstances should you do this - never let your card out of your sight.

So how do we fix this problem? Simple. We go back 10 years.

Remember all those fancy EFTPOS at pump terminals that the service stations trialled everywhere? They are in use today at Pak 'N Save and New World Fuel sites and many truck stops but have virtually disappeared from forecourts everywhere else.

Why you may ask? They made life so simple for the customer, infact they made life so simple they were bad for business.

Every time a customer paid for their fuel using one of these they didn't enter the premises to pay the cashier. Get annoyed every time the cashier at Shell tries to upsell you to the special of the week on the counter? This is because the profit margins on goods in service stations is exceptionally high. As fuel margins have declined it's become a significant revenue source however if people don't walk in the door to pay for their fuel they can't be upsold overpriced drinks or snacks.

A source tells me over 85% of fuel transactions these days are card based, this figure is fairly typical for most retail outlets as we move towards a cashless society. Reintroducing EFTPOS at pump obvious has significant costs but can virtually eliminate driveoffs and speed up the whole process of buying fuel. But will it ever happen? I have a feeling the answer is no..

The next time you are inconvenienced standing in line just remember the reason you have to do this. Life could be so much easier if you were able to pay for your fuel at the pump but it's those damn greedy fuel companies intent on selling you snacks you don't need that are intent on not only ripping us all off with their fuel pricing, but making life as difficult as they can because the simple solution is a threat to their business model.

Go figure..

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sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at