Monday, November 12, 2007

The most common Petrol Bunk fraud

When I think about the frauds I’ve personally faced, particularly down south here in Chennai, two bunch of frauds top the ranking chart. Number one is, obviously, the auto-wallah frauds. I don’t have a count of the different types of frauds they do, but they keep reinventing and coming up with a newer fraud like twice every week. They come up negotiation fraud, meter fraud, distance fraud, route fraud, one-way fraud, traffic-jam fraud, and innumerable combinations of these. And there’s only one real way to avoid getting into this fraud – not choosing autos as a mode of transport, which is what I recommend to most people permanently stationed in Chennai.

There’s another type of common fraud that I’m witnessing these days in the petrol bunks. The first time I was caught off-guard was 6 months back. I had asked the bunk guy to load Rs. 500 worth of petrol. He showed me the ‘Zero’ reading initially and started loading petrol, and suddenly stopped when the reading showed Rs. 100. This is the point to watch out. When you tell them you had asked for Rs. 500 worth of petrol and not for Rs. 100, they pretend as though they didn’t hear it properly the first time. They then reset the meter (but the reading never really goes back to zero, and they don’t ask you to watch the reading this time) and start loading till Rs. 400 and stop there. Since the reset from 100 to zero never happened and yet they stop at 400, you easily lose Rs. 100 in the process - especially if you did not notice the reading properly before the second phase of the loading. Even if you had noticed, the bunk guy is going to insist that the meter was reset before loading the additional Rs. 400. I have also noticed that they sometimes press the so-called ‘reset’ switch, but the reading does not go back to zero.

I became very conscious of this fraud after my first incident where I think (I still am not sure) I lost Rs. 100. The same fraud was tried twice on me after that, one as recently as the day before yesterday. This time, it was the Indian Oil bunk near the Kodambakkam Flyover in Chennai. Fortunately, I noticed that the meter reading did not go back to zero after the fraud ‘reset’ and shouted at him. They do not play with you if you consciously watch the reading throughout. They only play with you when you lose a moment of concentration and fail to watch the reading go back to zero during the mid-way reset. If you think you’ve been fooled into this, the best way to tackle this fraud is to ask them to show the petrol dispensing report from the machine – the log that contains all the dispensing activity for the day, which contains the time and quantity of petrol dispensed. I haven’t seen one personally, but I’ve been told that such a report can indeed be generated. You could also threaten to call the police as you go through the log with them, just to be on the safer side. In my experience, just raising the voice and being stern works most of the time.

This fraud is very difficult to control/eliminate because, unlike problems such as adulteration or fault meters, this can never really be tested and isolated. And the bunk owners can not be penalized since it’s the bunk operator who indulges in this. The only way to tackle this seems to be to consciously watch out for these frauds.


At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Jam said...

Hey there Govar,

Just as an addendum to this post, if you remember my X Factor presentation during the Services Mktg classes at Indore, another common way that the petrol bunk guys extort money out of you is using the simple fact that Oil Mktg Companies (like IOC, HP, etc) is by pricing fuel at odd denominations such as XX.39 or XX.84 for which one can never ever have exact money to pay.

One way to get over this fraud is by always filling in fuel at bunks which have meters on which the exact amount of money paid can be entered into digitally in the petrol dispenser. However, in Hyderabad, try telling the guy to enter the exact amount that you are going to pay and invariably the answer you get is that "Sir, that option does not work on the machine".

Heaven only knows when Petrol Bunk owners and Oil Mktg companies will ever learn to cater to their customers and not cheat them out of their money. I guess till the time that we have vehicles which run on fossilized fuel and till the time these jokers keep supplying fuel to us, we have no go but to be defrauded.


At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 7:10:00 PM, Anonymous Govar said...

I remember your X-factor presentation machi. Good thing is most bunks I see these days have the round number facility.. which is great. What's interesting is that most of these pity frauds are actually done by petrol bunk staff, which makes it very difficult to control... guess all of us need to go the US way - self service, and swipe the card for the amount you load.

At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Vimal said...

U won't beleive but the exact same thing happened to me and my friend in the same kodambakkam bunk u mentioned about. My friend asked to fill for 500 and the bunk guy operated the same modus operandi. The doubt for us came when the fuel level indicator in the car,which usually goes up to a quarter of the limit upon filling for 500 bucks, didnot rise at all. We got out immediately and had a big fight with the guy and the manager then came out. Upon explaining the situation, he said let us fill for another 500 bucks and see. This time though the indicator went upto nearly half the tank (which accounted for the 500 Rs petrol filled earlier as well). We assumed it must have been a mistake with the indicator at that time.

Only now do I doubt that the guy must have filled for less than 500 bucks resulting in the ensuing confusion. Would warn my friend to avoid the bunk from hereon.

At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 11:34:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Wow. That is some coincidence! What are the odds that two people from IIM-I have been cheated in the same bunk and they follow a blog. The odds are very low, and that explains how frequently they do it. Interesting.

At Friday, November 16, 2007 12:39:00 AM, Blogger Sachin Nichani said...

goto the company owed pumps. HP has one beside gemini and IOC has its pump on spur tank road. These guys have no incentive to cheat you.

Second... i always put full tank.. so i think its near impossible for them to cheat in that situation


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