When you walk into a fuel station to buy kerosene, petrol or diesel, the last thing on your mind might be getting cheated by the station attendants.
However, according to Daramola Babalola you might get cheated and these are some ways it happens and also what you can do to protect yourself.
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 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.
Petrol attendants sometimes use it to cheat customers.
Babalola said: "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."
2. Fake hang the nozzle
When the nozzle is hanged on the pump, the readings revert to zero. Fuel attendants have also found a way to manipulate it to make some money.
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.
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3: The Okada/Keke Napep advantage
Okada (Commercial motorcycles) and Keke Napep's (tricycles) tend to buy petrol in small quantities, so petrol station attendants use this as a new ploy.
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 continue to dispense fuel into your car tank without clearing the previous sale.
See the example he gave: "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 system
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," a report said.
5. The faulty meter
Some petrol stations have pumps with rigged meters that start ticking even before petrol starts to flow from the hose.
In Nigeria, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), said over 500 filling stations had been shut for under-dispensing and other related offences.
6. Longer dispenser pipes
Pumps save on a lot of petrol when they use long pipes. A perfectly good meter will show that a certain amount of petrol has been pumped out, but that amount hasn't reached your tank -- some of it is still in the pipe, and it goes back into the pump.
Through the day, the number of litres that stations save can be enormous, making the attendant accumulate surplus cash from undispensed fuel.
7. Friendly disposition
Sometimes, the trick is to seem friendly with you and make you comfortable, so you take your eyes off the fuel meter.
Sometimes the attendant can even get his colleague to distract you, so he can focus on fuel pump to cheat you.
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his is another trick used by fuel attendants, when you request to fill up your car or jerrycan for a particular amount, for example ₦4000, the attendant will sell only ₦1000 worth of fuel, when you ask him why he didn't fill up for ₦4000, the attendant will apologize and smile innocently and say that he/she heard you say you wanted to buy ₦1000 worth of fuel, and thus pretend to continue filling the remaining ₦3000, by pretending to reset the meter and fill up your ₦4000 worth of petrol and so you pay ₦4000.
But the attendant just cheated you because he/she did not reset the meter to ₦0.00 but instead just continued from the ₦1000 point till he got to ₦3000, so in reality you only get the petrol worth ₦3000, but pay ₦4000.
9. Nozzle manipulation
It is generally found that some pump attendants keep their fingers tight on the nozzle and interrupt the flow of fuel manually.
In this way, the required amount of fuel gets short. With these type of tricks, the pump staff saves probably litres of oil in a single day that accumulates to his personal surplus profit for the day.
10. Fuel adulteration
The simplest and the most effective way of cheating used by almost all the petrol pumps is the adulteration of fuel. Usually, the dealers chemically adulterate the petrol by adding Naphtha, which is a byproduct and is as dense as petrol. It does not leave residue and is cheaper than its counterpart.
11. Price indicators
Motorists should be more careful with pumps that have two sides of price indicators—back and forth screen, displaying amount of money dispensed.
For several reasons, some of which are technical, each side of the screen could show a different price. For example, ₦5000 and the other screen could display about ₦4000.
If you requested to buy fuel worth ₦5000 and the a buyer from other side of the pump is also buying ₦5000 worth of fuel, if you are not watching close enough, a crafty attendant can dispense fuel worth ₦4000 and point to the other side pump, hoodwinking you into believing that he/she has dispensed the amount you required, meanwhile you have lost ₦1000 as the price indicator was for the other pump.
To counter these tricks above, here are some things you can do:
1. Always, get off from your car, lock the vehicle and stand close to petrol tank and see the meter readings when buying fuel
2. 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.
3. If you develop doubt over a particular petrol pump, then AVOID that particular petrol pump in the future.
4. 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.
5. 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.
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