Beware of different types of petrol scams


Obbana Rajah

Following the Caltex saga that happened where a driver denied asking the attendant for a full tank of petrol, citing that he only wanted petrol worth $10, many online initially suggested that the driver of the BMW was part of a scam to get a full tank of petrol for the price of $10.

Does our reliance on pump attendants and on their ability to distinguish between mispronounced versions of “put ten” and “full tank” (or more like a garbled “full ten”) constitute a scam?

There are a few different types of scams that could happen at a petrol station:

  • Consumer scamming the pump attendant
  • Pump attendant scamming the consumer
  • The petrol kiosk owner cheating the company

As seen from the incident at Caltex, pump attendants are often elderly. It would be easy for them to misinterpret the amount customers ask for, leaving a huge gap for them to be taken advantage of. Customers could also be unclear in stating the amount of petrol they want – ‘full tank’, ‘put ten’ could sound very similar if not enunciated.

In a similar manner, the pump attendant could also pump more petrol than the customers have asked for. Disputes are likely to happen because of this, but most would likely just pay for the petrol since their car would need it anyway.

The last and rather unlikely scenario involves the owners of the petrol kiosk cheating the company. This could range anywhere from embezzling funds to falsifying bookkeeping records and pocketing profits.

While there are no statics on the number of people who manage to pull off the mispronounced-petrol-amount-scam, word-of-mouth stories suggest that these occurrences aren’t as rare as one would think.

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