While seven petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow were sealed for cheating unsuspecting customers, questions are being raised on the fraudulent practices employed by several fuel stations.
Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force rounded up several persons and raided petrol pumps after it received a tip off regarding the activity.
Incidentally, one of the petrol pump under scrutiny is owned by Uttar Pradesh Petroleum Dealers Association president, B N Shukla.
Sources from the STF said that the petrol pumps were using a chip-based device that filled less fuel.
The accused used the remote controlled device that also masks the metre readings. It was found that nearly 50 ml petrol from a litre was being stolen by the staff who used the special electronic chip to deceive the customers.
The oldest known technique is to tweak the petrol pump metre. According to petroleum expert Naresh Taneja, these tweaked metres show false reading and often render less fuel. Taneja said that most of the petrol pumps use old technology, making them susceptible to such fraudulent practices.
“A petrol pump owner is legally bound to consult a mechanic from the oil company. However, in most of the cases they hire local mechanics who make it easy for them to tamper it. The only solution is to fill fuel from different stations and keep the vehicle’s mileage under check,” said Taneja.
Taneja also asked customers to practice caution while filling fuel in their vehicles, as it is at this time the staff from petrol stations attempts to distract them.”They usually begin by asking about the payment mode and the moment one diverts attention from the metre, they get the job done.” he said.
He said that staff at petrol stations fill up fuel for an amount that is not quoted and when they are corrected they feign ignorance and go on to fill additional fuel. “When a customer asks the staff to fill petrol for Rs 1,000, they fill for Rs 200 at first. When asked to add more, he might distract you and fill for another Rs 600 without resetting the original value. The customer ends up paying Rs 1,000 and gets only fuel worth Rs 800,” said Taneja.
LONG PIPES LESS FUEL
Taneja said that some petrol pumps save petrol by using long pipes. They distract customers by offering them less than the quoted amount by quickly manipulating the nozzle. It is advised that one should station their vehicles at a short a distance from the machine, in order to let the pipe suspend evenly to ensure better flow.
While filling fuel, ensure that the quoted amount is not a round figure i.e. Rs 500, Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000. “There is a fair chance that the fuel stations would tweak the machines according to such figures. Buying fuel for Rs 575 or Rs 1575 makes it difficult for the staffers to cheat customers. Payments made using cards can prevent is also helpful,” said Taneja.
Taneja said that petrol pump staffers should be asked to not press the nozzle button while the petrol is being filled as this can slow down the flow of the fuel. “After the fuel flow is stopped, the staffers usually recommend filling more fuel to make it a round figure. Always refrain from such suggestions,” he said.
According to Taneja, customers should approach the fuel station manager if they suspect any fraud. “If the staff refuses to hand over the complaint book, call the customer care number of the respective oil company and intimate them about your experience,” Taneja added.