|The hardest £10 I ever earned|
I passed my driving test in 1972 and since then I have put enough petroleum in various cars to fill several Olympic-sized swimming pools. In all this time, I never once suspected that I'd been cheated by a malfunctioning petrol pump - until this April...
I had just picked our Frances up from Sheffield railway station and pulled in to the Waitrose filling station because my low fuel light was on. I put the pump nozzle in my car and pressed the hand lever as usual. It always takes three or four minutes to fill up and even though the price of unleaded was high that day - I confidently expected the charge dial would stop at no more than £58. However, it kept going up - £60, £65 £68! No way! Something was wrong. I didn't even allow the pump to shut off as my Seat Ibiza had never required this amount of fuel before. The pump indicated that I'd added 49.6 litres to my tank.
I complained at the pay desk but the air-headed girl behind the glass had clearly not been trained in how to deal with such complaints and there was a queue of people behind me. So I came home and checked my car manual which said that the tank holds a maximum of forty five litres. I emailed Waitrose immediately outlining the situation, even scanning my receipts for them and the relevant page from the car manual.
There then followed four months of email communication punctuated by large time gaps as I waited for various Waitrose "Customer Services" responses from a range of people - never the same one. They tried various tactics to put me off but would not waver from their company position that their pumps never make mistakes and because mine was an isolated complaint, I must be either mistaken or out to make money from them.
Finally, I said to them - "Give me money back or I will walk into a Waitrose store and simply take £10 worth of goods from your shelves!" It was at that point they relented and "as a gesture of goodwill" agreed to send me a voucher for £10.
After the incident in April, I monitored all further visits to filling stations and when filling up found that the most I was putting in was 44 litres and the most I was paying was £57.50. This convinced me that my complaint had been fully justified and I am pleased I managed to wring a victory out of the buggers in the end. Yorkshire Pudding 1 Waitrose United 0 (after extra time and several replays).