Caltex responds to viral Facebook post about BMW driver allegedly forcing old pump attendant to pay for his petrol

Caltex, an international petrol station chain, has responded to a Facebook post uploaded by a member of the public about how a senior pump attendant was compelled to pay for a driver’s petrol after the driver insisted that he did not ask for a full top up of his vehicle, stating that the attendant will not have to bear the cost of the petrol and an investigation will be made into the matter.

Miss Kelly Yeo had written to Caltex Singapore on Saturday evening to describe an incident that she witnessed and asked for clarification from the company.

She wrote,

“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?”

Ms Yeo also suggested that Caltex could perhaps install CCTVs equipped with audio recording of drivers’ instructions to the pump attendants at each pump for proof of evidence and asked 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!” wrote Ms Yeo.

Ms Yeo had also earlier made a similar post on the Facebook page but removed it as the posted image showed the facial features of the driver and the license plate number of the driver. However, by the time Ms Yeo took down the original post, the image has been widely circulated.

The post made by Ms Yeo was shared close to 1000 times while another separate post by another Facebook user which shows the unedited photo and Ms Yeo’s comments had over 10,000 shares.

Many took the stand that the driver shown in Ms Yeo’s post had scammed the old attendant and made use of him to pay for his petrol bill while a very small segment of them noted that the vehicle could be a test drive vehicle or rental vehicle but acknowledged that the driver could have offered other alternatives than to have the poor attendant to foot the balance of the bill.

On Sunday, Caltex published a status update on its Facebook page in response to Ms Yeo’s query to assure the community that its Caltex attendant did not bear any financial obligation from the events highlighted by Ms Yeo.

It noted that its station manager, together with the management team are looking into this issue now and an investigation is ongoing. The company, at the same time, asked everyone to refrain from any personal or group responses towards the driver or those involved as its team is already looking into resolving this.