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Elderly Caltex pump attendant agreed to bear S$125 bill as BMW driver said he asked for S$10 of fuel

The woman who posted about the incident hopes Caltex can refrain from making the attendant pay.

Belmont Lay |Mandy How | April 15, 2018 @ 03:46 am

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[UPDATE on Sunday at 1:30pm: Read Caltex S’pore’s response to Yeo’s complaint here.]

A petrol kiosk customer is feeling indignant enough to publicly identify herself and post her feedback on Caltex Singapore’s Facebook page informing them about a disturbing incident she personally witnessed.

The incident took place on April 14, 2018 at about 2pm at the Caltex petrol kiosk in Tampines.

What she saw

In summary, this was what she wrote:

• The woman customer witnessed a BMW driver who insisted on not paying the full amount for his petrol.

• The BMW driver said he had instructed the elderly pump attendant he only wanted S$10 of fuel.

• But the pump attendant had pumped a full tank of fuel instead that cost S$135.

• Without arguing, the pump attendant, who looks like an elderly man in his 60s, agreed to absorb the outstanding S$125 cost without hesitation.

• The BMW driver then walked away.

• The woman customer is asking if there is a way Caltex would not penalise the elderly man even if he had chosen to accept responsibility for the error.

This is the post in full:

Dear Caltex,

I earlier witnessed an incident at Caltex Tampines Ave 8 @2pm on 14 April and it filled me with such indignation that it prompted me to write this to you, hoping that you could help alleviate the financial obligation of your employee and implement appropriate measures to handle the incident as follows.

While processing payment at the Cashier counter, the customer (picture uploaded herewith) and driver of BMW vehicle SLTXXXXG, claimed that your pump attendant had mistakenly refilled a full tank of petrol costing about $135 for his vehicle instead of the $10 petrol that he had instructed at Pump 7. He refused to pay the full amount and insisted to pay only $10 for the full tank.

The pump attendant probably in his early 60s, was subsequently summoned to the Cashier counter to verify. He explained that he had heard that it was a full tank refill but the customer immediately rebutted it. What happened next astonished me. Instead of creating a scene by engaging in an argument with the customer, the elderly pump attendant calmly informed the Cashier to let the customer pay $10 and he would personally absorb the rest of the cost. As a result, the customer walked away smugly paying a mere $10 payment for a full tank of petrol for his BMW Series 5 vehicle.

Whilst I was impressed with the collected composure and professional customer service that both your Cashier and pump attendant had displayed throughout the incident, I am deeply disturbed that the customer had capitalized on the opportunity to make the elderly pump attendant pay for the supposedly oversight. The customer could have responded gentlemanly and be gracious to forgive by paying for the petrol since his vehicle would need to consume it anyway. Alternatively, he could have paid for a partial amount instead of making the elderly pump attendant bear the full $125. Unfortunately, this was not so.

I have done some online research and noticed that the remuneration of a pump attendant averages about $1600/mth in Singapore. $125 means a significant 8% of his meagre salary. Would Caltex consider waiving this amount or allowing the pump attendant to pay at cost?

Also, assuming it was entirely the pump attendant’s oversight, under such circumstances, perhaps the Cashier could have proposed to the customer to pay for a partial amount instead of allowing the elderly pump attendant bear full monetary responsibility?

Alternatively, for proof of evidence, perhaps Caltex can install CCTVs equipped with audio recording of drivers’ instructions to the pump attendants at each pump? What are Caltex’s existing guidelines and policies to handle such situation? I am concerned that if no effective standard operating systems are defined, such practices of having pump attendants to bear the price discrepancies can lead to abuse. Imagine if one uses this approach on each petrol station in Singapore every few days, it is tantamount to one walking away striking lottery frequently and the accumulated value will be very substantial!

If you need more information, please feel free to PM me. You may also get a full account of the story and verify it by asking the Cashier involved and the pump attendant (a dark skinned Chinese uncle whose name is 2 characters and has a Ba or Ka in his name.

This is the post:

Reactions

The woman who provided the feedback had previously put up an earlier similar post.

However, it was subsequently removed as it showed the BMW car license plate and the other photo uploaded partially revealed the BMW driver’s face.

The original post had, within a day, several thousand Facebook shares and hundreds of comments:

BMW driver could have been more gracious

The reactions on the post were almost unanimous in condemning the BMW driver’s actions for not letting the matter rest by being more gracious about things.

This is so as he could have absorbed the cost himself since he is assumed to be driving the car and will be using the fuel, regardless.

But there were also those who felt the BMW driver is right in principle for refusing to pay, if he had indeed asked for only S$10 worth of petrol and should not be made to bear the cost because of other people’s error.

Plight of pump attendants

This incident comes hot on the heels of a feature story recently focusing on the plight of an elderly pump attendant in Singapore, who is one of the many invisible low-wage workers that keep services in the country going.

The 77-year-old pump attendant was the main feature in the story, which began with:

When 77-year-old Mohamed Yasin gets scolded by a customer – and make no mistake, some can get demanding indeed – it affects him so much, it keeps him awake at night.

And one of the incidents the elderly pump attendant was reported to have encountered is almost similar in nature to this Caltex case, where mistakes are borne by the workers that lead to pay deductions:

Take the one time years ago when he put in the wrong fuel grade, after a couple differed on the grade they wanted. The woman refused to pay the S$87.

So he told her: “Though my pay is little, I made a mistake and I’ll pay.” His manager later made up for his loss by giving him vouchers.

It was revealed in the article that such pump attendants earn well below S$2,000 in salary a month, even with Workfare benefits included.

Read Caltex Singapore’s response to this here:

Elderly pump attendant won’t have to bear cost of fuel from BMW driver who paid S$10: Caltex S’pore

 

Top photo via Caltex FB page, Kelly Yeo’s Facebook post

 

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About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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