Monday, 5 November 2018

"Make drivers pay for fuel in advance, says police chief"

A most interesting article at the BBC:

Petrol firms had made it too easy to drive off without paying because they wanted to entice motorists into their shops, said Simon Cole of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

About 25,000 people every year "bilk" the system by avoiding payment.

That's a staggeringly small number, there are over thirty million vehicles on the road, all of who fill up (say) thirty-three times a year = about 1 billion purchases a year. If 25,000 go unpaid, that's 0.0025% of all purchases = effectively zero. I can see why that's hardly a police priority.

Most petrol stations have number recognition AFAIAA. They can and should pass on to the police the details of drivers who drove off without paying, I wouldn't expect the police to step in for a single splash and dash (petrol stations can start a civil action), but people who do that are likely to be the sort of people who commit other motoring offences, so when they finally get nicked, the police can add it to the list of offences they are charged with.

Mr Cole, who is chief constable for Leicestershire, said 12% of crimes faced by his force were retail-related.

"The petroleum industry could design out bilking in 30 seconds by making people pay up front, which is what they do in other countries," he said, "They don't, because the walk in their shops is part of their business offer."

Some pumps make you insert your debit card before you fill up, saving you the hassle of going into the shop.

If petrol station owners want the best of both worlds, they could set things up so that you have to go into the shop to insert your debit card and select your pump before you can fill up.


Lola said...

I read that article. It's bollocks. Just Plod bleating

dustybloke said...

Given his jurisdiction, I'd have thought he would want his boys and girls busy investigating this sort of crime so he could plead that they were too busy to investigate the inconvenient stiff.

dustybloke said...


ontheotherhand said...

I have an entirely unattended ASDA petrol station near me where one pays up front, and it is normally the cheapest. Next cheapest is Sainsbury where they give you the choice to pay up front or in the kiosk. I guess that if we were forced to pay up front there, the footfall into the shop would reduce and they would either have to shut it to go the ASDA model, or raise their prices.

ontheotherhand said...

Since the retailer's gross margin is about 5%, they lose about 20 cars' worth of margin if 1 does a runner. The government/police benefit from about 60% of the pump price. I assume they get the fuel duty, but not the VAT if the product is stolen? On a 60l theft they get around £30 no matter what?

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, he does seem a bit whiny.

JM, clearly not.

OTOH, I'd go to the ASDA petrol station (usually the cheapest).

No VAT paid, I don't think. But the percentage not paid for is so low it's not worth worrying about.

George Carty said...

I wonder how many sales ASDA lose at their unattended petrol stations due to the lack of a pay-by-cash option?

benj said...

Given the small number, I wonder how many of those are genuine forgot to pay? Apparently, its 75%.

I also wonder how many forgot their wallet, filled up, but didn't have time to explain things, thus just drove off.

Mark Wadsworth said...

GC, that's their business decision.

BJ, no idea, I've never done it afaiac.

Kj said...

I've forgot to pay around two times as a driver for 20 years, unintentionally. One of the times was just being distracted, the other time I thought I'd register my debit card, but hadn't waited long enough. Ofcourse the station has nummer plate recognises, so a week later in both cases I got a bill in the mail, with an extra charged tacked on, which is fair enough. Problem solved.

Kj said...

=number plate recognition

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, sending the bill in the mail, that seems a good solution