Thursday, November 03, 2005

Who's fault is it really.

According to the NZ Herald yesterday.....Petrol prices may have finally been falling around the country but a rural South Island service station undercut all the opposition late last month, reducing its price to just 14.9 cents a litre, $1.34 a litre below the standard price at the time.

Unfortunately for motorists who cashed in on the bargain price, it was all a big mistake........... Well too bad for the service station. It was priced at 14.9 cents a liter and the pump was working and on. I would think that it is perfectly legal for the buyer to take the gas at that price as long as he / she paid the 14.9 cents per litre.

The Challenge Riwaka petrol station, near Motueka, inadvertently slashed its price to 14.9 cents a litre after a staff member set the decimal point in the wrong place on the overnight self-service Eftpos pump on October 21 and 22......... So sack the employee for negligence, or something. Use your error and emmissions insurance and make a claim.

Challenge placed an advertisement in a newspaper today asking those who benefited from the blunder to come forward and pay the difference............ Why, they made a mistake.

Anyone who hasn't done so by Sunday can expect to have their Eftpos details handed over to Motueka police................. Now that is darn right sneaky. If they made the mistake and someone filled up then they will have to deal with it. There may well be people out there that didn't even realise that they purchased the fuel for that price.

Challenge owner-manager Jeff Roger said this morning no-one had owned up yet. "We're upset, really. Some people have got the fuel and just come back several times knowing the machine is wrong."........... How did the buyer not know that it was some sort of promotion?

The staff member involved had made a honest mistake and was not in trouble, he said.......... Well he or she should be in trouble. I'd be mighty pissed off if I was traveling and happened to fill up at the station on route. Imagine getting to your final destination and having the police accusing you of theft. I don't think that people in their wildest thoughts would have expected to get fuel for 14.9 cents per litre.

Senior Sergeant Grant Andrews of Motueka police confirmed there were 50 Eftpos transactions on the self-service pump over the two nights.

"Challenge has offered these people an amnesty until Sunday night.

"Come Monday morning we'll be following up on theft complaints and then we'll be tracking down the people who have made the transactions.

"In some cases, there has been a transaction of 30 or 40 litres of fuel and a short time later 100 litres of fuel to that same Eftpos card.

"So we are looking at theft or using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage -- there are penalties for that," he said.

"They will know that they've purchased petrol at that price. You could fill your car for $7, so they will know.'.................. Yea... So you fill up for $7 and realise that the charge is 14.9 cents per litre.... What do you do, put it back in the pump. That is impossible. The gas station made a mistake and should pay for it. If people who live locally volunteer to pay the extra because they filled up at teh low rate, then good Kharma for them, but otherwise...TUFF


Cathy Odgers said...

I agree here Rob and had compiled the legal argument based on the jumped up police allegations it is theft or using a document to gain pecuniary advantage. Which I do not believe it is at all.

Challenge should not be using the Police to reclaim the money, and are only doing it because it is cheaper for them.

This is a simple civil matter and they would have to take each person through civil proceedings to reclaim the money which would not make financial sense.

I also thought of the counter argument that Challenge misled consumers regarding price and therefore several Acts protect the consumer against this as well.

Then I got bored and hit save as it was too much like what my firm charges me out at $400USD an hour to do..

Rob Good said...

I am in NZ now. I will keep an eye on the topic.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the total lack of balance in the established media. Doesn't the Consumers Institute usually get wheeled out in this type of situation? Certain industry groups must have major lobbying power...

Andrew said...

The petrol company has no case. It is a simple case of offer and acceptance. They offered the price and the customer accepted it.

There is a reason why petrol transfer technicians always ask, "Just the newspaper, sir?" Because once upon a time a man went into a service station after filling his car. Picked up a choclate bar or something and put in down on the counter. The attendant said "that's $2.00." The man paid and left. The attendant forgot to charge him for the petrol. It went to court. The ruling was that the man presented himself to pay, the company asked for $2.00 and the man accepted. A simple honest transaction. Now if the attendant said "Just the chocolate bar?" Then the man would have had to mention the petrol or he would be guilty of lying.

By going to the police, the petrol station is trying to intimidate people into paying. For all the bad press it probably isn't worth it.

Rob Good said...

You are right Andrew.....