Posted by: kcgadiyar | June 5, 2011

How i almost got scammed at a petrol pump

Around a year or two ago I was having a conversation with one of my friends when he brought up a scam which happens at petrol pumps in Bangalore. The basic M.O. of the scam is as follows:

  • Irrespective of how much you told the attendant to put, he puts in only 50 Rs
  • When you point this out, he says that he misheard you
  • At this time, another attendant comes and asks you for the money
  • The first attendant fills petrol and stops it 50 Rs. short of how much you asked him for (i.e. if you asked for 200, he will stop it at 150) and claim that he started from zero again and filled the difference

The actual scam part comes in the fact that he never starts it from zero again, he instead continued from 50. So you get 50 Rs less petrol (and with petr0l prices being the way they are you want every drop to be filled) and the pump gets an extra 50 bucks.

So today, i was running low on fuel and decided to fill my tank fully near Begumpet. I just happened to have a gift card which i hadn’t used and decided to use it. So i pull up to the pump attendant and the first thing i ask him is “Do you take cards?” and he says yes. So i tell him put five hundred. He stops at 50 and is taking the hose back when i tell him it is 500. He tells me that he must have misheard. This is when warning bells sound in my mind for 2 reasons

1. He clearly heard me ask whether they take cards and that was asked coming right out of traffic

2. Five hundred and fifty sound nothing alike in any language. If he had stopped at a hundred, i might have given him the benefit of the doubt since it is easy to miss a “Five” but mishearing five hundred for fifty is almost not possible.

My suspicion is confirmed a moment later when another attendant comes over and asks me for the payment. I ignore the other guy completely and instead keep my attention firmly on the pump attendant. He feigns putting the hose back onto the pump in order to reset the indicator. But i notice the indicator immediately and when he starts pumping again, it starts from 50 instead of from 0. He pumps in 450 and says that he is done.;

This is when i decide to confront him and tell him that i saw the dial and it never reset. He says “No, it is automatic” and puts the hose on the pump twice to convince me. I tell him that i saw him never put the hose back on it and also i saw the numbers throughout and they started from 50 and not 0. The other attendant who was pestering me for the payment realizes that the jig is up and says “Okay sir, if you don’t trust us, we will only take 450”. I pay the 450 and the pump attendant steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that he had done anything wrong, even saying “Sometimes, it takes a second or two to reset” as i am leaving. The fact that they so easily agreed to forgo 50 rupees just strengthened their guilt in my mind. Needless to say, i am never going to that pump again.

How can you avoid getting scammed?

  1. Always, and i mean ALWAYS, ensure that the meter starts from zero when you fill, irrespective of how may times you have to make sure of that while filling
  2. If the attendant puts in only 50 the first time when you have clearly specified an amount which is in the hundreds – it is a scam. Don’t divert your attention from the pump for any reason
  3. If the meter starts from 50 instead of zero, point this out immediately

Until next time,

K.C.G

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Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience KCGmaam, the best option would be to go to “Company Operated” Pumps. Might take a while to find these out, but they’re surely worth it (or so we’d like to believe)! 🙂

  2. Whoa! A perfect post to forward to my friends!


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