One of the biggest sources of frustration I’ve heard in the past year has been about automation and “pay at the pump” services at petrol stations.
Resolver helped sort out over 2,000 complaints over lockdown – but that’s barely the tip of the iceberg.
However, all hell broke loose this week when drivers began to notice that some petrol service providers, like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, are trialling a £99 deposit when you use the pay at the pump service.
The way this is supposed to work is the money is “temporarily” held on your account (meaning you can’t spend it) until the end of the transaction when the correct amount should be debited.
This is actually something that many petrol stations experimented with a few years ago (it bombed).
What do you think about the £99 hold payment at the pumps? Let us know in the comments.
Now the problem – as anyone who has used pay at the pump services will know – is sometimes the machines don’t do what they are supposed to.
People have been reporting problems anyway with automated pumps, with keying in details, incorrect billing and other issues. Many people are rightly concerned that the £99 is being debited in error after they’ve driven away.
The good news is if this happens, it should be pretty clear that there is an error and your bank should be able to step in on your behalf if the petrol station provider of services is dragging its feet or isn’t contactable. But that’s not really the point.
In the past, you’d be debited a nominal £1 to check the card was working, but that could leave the system open to abuse (though realistically, only if you used a stolen card!).
The old system also involved your actual petrol bill appearing on your account a few days after paying. The new system should mean you’re debited on the day.
But any system that works by reserving money, then refunding the difference in what you spend is potentially fraught with difficulty. So motorists beware – and if you find the system isn’t working make a formal complaint.
Here’s a look at some of the other petrol pump problems that people are reporting at the moment.
You don’t have £100 in your account
The big problem for many people on tight budgets is not having £100 in your bank account– but just enough to pay for some petrol.
I’m assured that under these circumstances you should be able to fill up to the value of what’s in your account, though many people have told me they’ve been “locked out” totally from filling up.
If this happens to you, make sure you pull in to a ‘manned’ station so you can take it up with a member of staff – especially if you’re running low on both cash and petrol.
Some petrol stations are unmanned
Which leads us to one of the biggest sources of anger for people – petrol stations that are fully automated.
From vandalism and concerns about the safety of motorists at night, to pumps and facilities that don’t work, unmanned stations are an ongoing problem.
I appreciate it’s not as easy as just avoiding them (they’re spreading rapidly) but use them with caution.
If something goes wrong, take pictures of the problem where applicable and call any numbers that are on the pumps while in the vicinity of the station if you feel safe to do so.
As long as you have reported the matter you can make a formal complaint from your home.
Is the pump accurate?
All pumps are required to meet legal standards, so they are accurate between -0.5% and +1%.
All pumps should be sealed to ensure they cannot be tampered with, and every time the pump is repaired the same checks are carried out.
In addition, your Local Trading Standards may undertake random checks on the pumps to ensure they are accurate.
If you believe the pumps are inaccurate you should use Resolver to report this issue to your local Trading Standards department at your local council. They will then be able to investigate the issue.
Is your petrol station run down?
Come 2030, the Government is banning the sale of petrol fuelled cards with hybrids out by 2035.
You should still be able to buy petrol after this date but there’s already a bit of concern about investment in petrol stations.
So if you’re not going electric, keep a close eye on facilities near you and complain if you feel they’re being run down or aren’t working as they should be.
Resolver can help you make a complaint for free about all things car and petrol.
- If you’ve got a complaint about your local petrol station, Resolver can help at www.resolver.co.uk.