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How To Detect Fraud at Petrol Pumps

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  • How To Detect Fraud at Petrol Pumps

    This is a common enough problem most car and bike owners face in India. There are a number of petrol pumps that will try and con you by short-fuelling or shortchanging you when you go to fill your car or bike up, unless you stay alert. I am just collating a list of scams that petrol pumps pull on unsuspecting car and bike owners here.
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    Common tricks to fool a customer

    1. The long, long hose trick: This is not really a trick on the part of the fuel pump, but it's a fault in the design of fuel dispensers itself. Many fuel dispensers have hoses that are longer than needed, and when fuel has been filled in your car or bike, there is still some fuel in the hose, that has already been metered that stays in the hose. It could be as much as 100-150 ml of fuel. Make sure every last drop is dispensed, raising the hose before taking the nozzle out if needed.

    2. The sleight of hand, shortchanging trick: This is something that a lot of bikers face, especially those who fill fuel for small amounts and pay in cash. When handing back change for a Rs. 1000 or Rs. 500 note, the attendant will appear to count the correct amount of change, but will sometimes hold back Rs. 100 or Rs. 50. Since most bikers are usually in a hurry to take the change and dash off, they sometimes get short changed.

    3. The diversionary trick: This happens to car and bike owners. Even if you check the meter on the fuel dispenser and the attendant begins filling fuel, a second attendant or salesperson will walk up to you and divert your attention, on the pretext of selling you some credit card, rewards card or scratch removing polish. All this while, the other attendant has his hand on the nozzle. If you appear to be distracted, they will quickly finish filling the car before it reaches the amount you asked for and reset the machine. So, if you've asked for 20 litres or perhaps Rs. 1000 worth of fuel, they would have filled for about Rs. 950 or a litre less and hung up before you can pay attention again. Of course, if you insist on a bill from the machine (most dispensers now have an electronic bill generated from them), you can detect such fraud. This mainly happens on the older type of dispensers that don't have an integrated bill-generating facility.

    4. The double start trick: If you ask for fuel worth Rs. 1000, unscrupulous attendants will pretend they haven't heard you correctly and quickly stop the machine when it hits Rs. 300. If you point out that you asked for Rs. 1000 worth of fuel he will pretend to reset the machine, while your attention is diverted, and fill until it reaches Rs. 700. You think you've got Rs. 300 plus Rs. 700 worth of fuel, but really, you've lost Rs. 300 worth of fuel in this trick. It takes two people though, and is a variant of the diversionary trick.

    5. The jerky stop-start trick: Attendants don't fully lock the nozzle of the dispenser handle when dispensing fuel. Instead, they will keep juggling it as they fill. Each time they press and release it, some fuel is held back due to an air lock, but the fuel is already metered. This could be as high as 150-200 ml for every 10 litres of fuel dispensed.

    6. The continuity trick: Again something that happens a lot with bikers, who fill small quantities of fuel. A previous biker may have filled fuel for just Rs. 100 and moved on. The attendant then comes to you and pretends to reset the machine, if say you have asked for Rs. 500 worth of fuel. In reality, he continues to fill fuel from the Rs. 100 point without resetting the machine, thereby shortchanging you of Rs. 100 worth of fuel. This is again a diversionary tactic, and something they won't pull if you stay alert and check the meter before refuelling.

    7. Dispenser tampering: Fuel pump dispensers are becoming increasingly difficult to tamper with now fortunately, and that's a good thing. Yet, there are ways in which these dispensers can be tampered with to make their meters run faster than the actual amount of fuel dispensed. Recently, there was a news report of a few fuel stations in Punjab that were found to have electronic devices that made the meters jump a few digits while refuelling, thereby putting in less than what is shown on the display.

    How can you prevent being scammed?

    > Always insist on a printed bill from the dispenser
    > Fill fuel only at reputed pumps that have the latest model dispensers
    > Always get down from your vehicle and check the meter before refuelling starts
    > Stay with the vehicle and keep an eye on the meter all through the refuelling process, don't get distracted
    > If you are filling for a preset amount or value, get the attendant to enter that on the dispenser, put in the nozzle, press the handle to the lock position and move away from the nozzle. It will automatically stop when the correct amount of fuel has been filled.
    > If you are still in doubt, you can ask for a quantity check. They will fill 250 ml or 500 ml worth of fuel in a graduated beaker and check against the meter if it's the exact amount dispensed.
    > Try not to use cash and instead use a debit or credit card for fuel

    Please share other scams you have come across at petrol pumps in this thread, as it will serve as an eye opener to other car and bike owners.
    Drink coffee and drive!

  • #2
    Most of the pumps still don't provide a printed bill. Haven't really thought of these many parameters while filling fuel. I thing i always do, is to get out of the car, and stand next to the guy who fills it. And in my opinion, its plain disrespect sitting inside and asking someone to fill up the tank.
    if everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane.

    Comment


    • #3
      JijoMalayil Yes, I have seen a lot of car owners chill inside their cars while the petrol pump guy fills up their tank. It is quite risky to do that. And I have seen a lot of drivers driving off coolly with their tank lids open! Yes, often the bills have the wrong date and time set. These kind of bills are no good. Who wants a bill printed on 26th August 2211?
      Roshun After reading this post, now I feel I might have also been cheated A couple of times, the person at the fuel pump doesn't enter the number. he just resets it and lets it run and manually stops at 99% of the amount asked for.. Does that mean i'm being cheated (Barring the 1%)? In another instance, I was insisted on giving the bill and somehow it felt like I didn't get the amount of fuel i paid for. I may have gotten distracted when the guy wrote me the bill.
      Keep the rubber side down!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Praveen View Post
        Roshun After reading this post, now I feel I might have also been cheated A couple of times, the person at the fuel pump doesn't enter the number. he just resets it and lets it run and manually stops at 99% of the amount asked for.. Does that mean i'm being cheated (Barring the 1%)?
        Why would you want to let go of that 1%? Stop filling fuel in pumps where this practice is being followed. Most dispensers are now automatic. Go to a better pump.
        Drink coffee and drive!

        Comment


        • #5
          Praveen They still do that? Majority of the pumps have shifted to the automated system of entering the required amount before filling the fuel. Haven't seen this older system for some time now. You better avoid these now.
          if everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane.

          Comment


          • #6
            JijoMalayil I have seen this happening in South India. Roshun Back when I was in Chennai, I used to avoid such pumps and go to Shell pumps. Their equipment are very well maintained and their service and fuel quality is also good! I used to get 50-55 kmpl on my Dazzler those days! Yes, it is a bit expensive, but only by a small margin. I wonder why there are no Shell pumps in cities like Delhi.
            Keep the rubber side down!

            Comment


            • #7
              Praveen Shell fuel is of good quality, but doesn't have an outlet in Delhi. I have seen one on the Jaipur- Udaipur highway though. Reliance also serves good quality fuel, sadly all their outlets got shutdown at most of the places. Does anybody know why? Engine feels refined and you get better fuel efficiency with these better refined fuels, and is worth paying that small premium.
              if everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Roshun View Post

                3. The diversionary trick: This happens to car and bike owners. Even if you check the meter on the fuel dispenser and the attendant begins filling fuel, a second attendant or salesperson will walk up to you and divert your attention, on the pretext of selling you some credit card, rewards card or scratch removing polish. All this while, the other attendant has his hand on the nozzle. If you appear to be distracted, they will quickly finish filling the car before it reaches the amount you asked for and reset the machine. So, if you've asked for 20 litres or perhaps Rs. 1000 worth of fuel, they would have filled for about Rs. 950 or a litre less and hung up before you can pay attention again. Of course, if you insist on a bill from the machine (most dispensers now have an electronic bill generated from them, you can detect such fraud). This mainly happens on the older type of dispensers that don't have integrated bill generating facility.

                6. The continuity trick: Again something that happens a lot with bikers, who fill small quantities of fuel. A previous biker may have filled fuel for just Rs. 100 and moved on. The attendant then comes to you and pretends to reset the machine, if say you have asked for Rs. 500 worth of fuel. In reality, he continues to fill fuel from the Rs. 100 point without resetting the machine, thereby shortchanging you of Rs. 100 worth of fuel. This is again a diversionary tactic, and something they won't pull if you stay alert and check the meter before refuelling.
                Roshun, I have faced these two problems in 2 different cities. 'The continuity trick' is a common practice at some of the crowded 2-wheeler pumps in Pune. While I was living there, I was using my Bullet and there were often long queues of bikers at most of the fuel bunks, the attendant would try to flash the amount filled by the previous biker and tell you that he's filled it in your bike!! And once this turned into a big issue as I objected to it and the pump attendant started arguing and screaming in his native language, to which I could not say anything and had to just move on.

                No traction, more action!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Some fillers pretend that there is power cut and continue filling the remaining amount (a part of THE DOUBLE START TRICK)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    'The Diversionary trick' is also common at some of the fuel pumps in Delhi. Happened to me once at the Indian Oil Petrol Bunk on MG Road. I caught the other pump guy trying to divert my attention and immediately turned towards the meter only to notice the other guy trying to mock up the number. What happened after this is better not spoken about, but it left a very bad taste. Especially considering it was a 'Company Owned, Company Operated' outlet!!
                    No traction, more action!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here's a video of a tampered fuel dispenser in Punjab. Notice how the meter is running, but no fuel is coming out of the dispenser? Now that is pretty ingenious!

                      Wait, there's more. Here is a video (in Hindi) of a larger scam, again in Punjab, of electronic chip devices used to tamper the digital fuel dispenser meters. Some people will go to any length to cheat customers.
                      Drink coffee and drive!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What is the adulterant that is added to diesel in petrol pumps?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by KPR View Post
                          What is the adulterant that is added to diesel in petrol pumps?
                          Usually diesel is adulterated with kerosene. For petrol, they usually adulterate it with naphtha. Fortunately adulteration has come down in recent times at least in metros - although in remote pumps, rural areas, you still get adulterated fuel.
                          Drink coffee and drive!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks guys ,for the info. I have seen these things happening in Mumbai, i take care about checking The meter and distractions and also the fuel pricing but will check on the fuel hose and billing!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Roshun Thanks for this informative post. I've been tanking up from a fuel station from the moment it was inaugurated. While initial top ups were leading to good FE, lately, on one occasion, the dude filled up 36 litres in my car. I already had at least 2 ltr in the tank before and my tank is rated at 35 L. I checked for official seal in the pump and it was intact. I just took a receipt. Even if I want to check the quantity of fuel, they'll just fill up a 5 L can that they say is "certified" by weights and measures lab. I'm sure that is going to fill up to the brim. I can't ask them to fill up in my container as it might have some error. What can I do to check for accuracy down to the ml?

                              Comment

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