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Tricks Fuel Attendants Use To Cheat Customers

Have you at any point pulled over at a petrol station to buy fuel, only to notice that your gauge does not reflect the quantity of fuel you bought? But if you think you haven’t, observe very closely —you may have fallen for the tricks fueling station sales attendants use to cheat. Most Nigerian drivers have at one time or the other been ripped off.

It’s advisable to always pay keen attention to the pump meter when buying fuel. Normally the meter must be set to zero when the pump starts but some attendants take advantage of your lack of attention to start from the point where the last sale was made. If you can, get down from your car and stand close to the meter to watch. Below are a few ways you can prevent yourself from been ripped off:

1.) Recall Or TIM/CAL Button

Some people may not know this, 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 the 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. Beyond seeing  past sales,petrol attendants use it to cheat and make money from the customers.

2.) Fake Hanging Of The Nozzle

Almost every petrol consumer knows that when the nozzle is hanging on the dispensing machine, the readings revert to zero. Thus the fuel attendants have also found a way to manipulate it to make some money for their pockets. 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. This trick is used a lot during fuel scarcity, or when customers are in a hurry to buy fuel. This trick is also easier for the fuel attendant if  the last sale was in a small quantity.

3.) The Okada Or Keke Napep Advantage

Most times, commercial motorcycles and Tricycles popularly know in Nigeria as Okada and Keke Napep tends to buy petrol in small quantities, for example like 2 or 3 litres of fuel. After dispensing fuel to the Okada/Keke Napep, if the next buyer intends to buy fuel in his vehicle or Jerry can, the fuel attendant will use the Okada/Keke Napep advantage, because of the small quantity sold previously and continue to dispense fuel into the vehicles’ tank without clearing the previous sale.

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.

More importantly, the vehicle needs space in its tank for fuel vapours to expand. Overfilling can force gas into the car’s carbon filter, leading to poor performance, reduced mileage or costly repairs. So, the next time you want to buy fuel, don’t top off your tank, it’s good for your car and even better for your wallet.

5.) The Faulty Meter

Some petrol pumps have rigged meters that start ticking even before petrol starts to flow from the hose. Have you ever gone to a filling station to buy fuel and it takes lesser time to fill your tank, compared to other places? This is as a result of the meters that have been tampered with, the attendant will make you believe the particular fuel dispenser is faster or slower than normal, depending on how the meters were manipulated.

Nigeria’s petroleum regulator, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has been saddled with the responsibility of regulating, monitoring and enforcing the laws in the sector, used the Seraphin Can to expose filling stations involved in the nefarious act in Lagos recently.

The ten-liter Seraphin Can is used by the DPR to ascertain the exact dispensing meter measurement of filling stations. When filled to the level of ten liters, dispensing meters that have been adjusted will show above ten liters on the display board. When this occurs, the filling station is shut by DPR officials.

6.) Using Unnecessarily Longer Dispenser Pipe

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.) Getting Friendly, Distract And Cheat

How many times have you visited the filling station and you notice that the fuel attendant is trying to chat you up. If he is not talking about the government, religion or politics, he is most likely to dive into football, especially if he noticed you are a fan of a particular club. The trick is to make you get very comfortable, argue with him and 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.

8.) Pretend Not To Hear You, Fake Ignorance, Smile And Apologize

This is another trick used by fuel attendants, when you request to fill up your car or Jerry can for a particular amount, for example ₦4,000, the attendant will sell only ₦1,000 worth of fuel, when you ask him why he didn’t fill up for ₦4,000, the attendant will apologize and smile innocently and say that he/she heard you say you wanted to buy ₦1,000 worth of fuel, and thus pretend to continue filling the remaining ₦3,000, by pretending to reset the meter and fill up your ₦4,000 worth of petrol and so you pay ₦4,000. But the attendant just cheated you, and this is how…

He did not reset the meter to ₦0.00 , he continued from the ₦1,000 point till he got to ₦3,000, so in reality you only get the petrol worth ₦3,000, but pay ₦4,000.

9.) Intervening The Dispenser Nozzle

It is generally found that the 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 fuel 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.) Two Sides Of Price Indicators

In this particular trick, manipulation is done by pump attendants who normally strike when motorists are preoccupied with other thoughts. Most times, pump attendants are so daring. 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, ₦5,000 and the other screen could display about ₦4,000.

If you requested to buy fuel worth ₦5,000 and the a buyer from other side of the pump is also buying ₦5,000 worth of fuel, if you are not watching close enough, a crafty attendant can dispense fuel worth ₦4,,000 and point to the other side pump,  hoodwinking you into believing that he/she has dispensed the amount you required, meanwhile you have lost ₦1,000 as the price indicator was for the other pump.

With the knowledge of these tricks above, you can never be cheated by fuel attendant and you will buy your money’s worth of fuel. Please leave a comment if you have also observed other new tricks for the benefit of everyone. Drive Safe!

About Nonso Okafor

I've worked as a technical support representative in major auto centers in Nigeria for more than twenty years. I have dealt with a variety of problems in my capacity as a customer service representative and auto diagnostics expert. I'm committed to assisting people in properly maintaining their automobiles and in appreciating this magnificent innovation known as an automobile.

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7 comments

  1. We all gotta be careful

  2. LOL! Good point!

  3. Is this insightful write-up an outcome of research alone or did the author previously do pump attendance and is sealing his repentance with this article…

  4. The other day a fuel attendant was sacked at the spot trying to play a fast one on a customer. This is an epidemic

  5. Funny what these attendants do to people. I witness one myself recently

  6. Yesterday night at Port Harcourt I asked for 10k fuel. After that the fuel attendant came to say she was sorry that she thought I said N1,000 and that she had dispensed N1,000 earlier. I was livid with anger and was about calling the owner of the gas station on phone, she immediately apologized that I am right.

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