Heels & Horsepower Magazine


Fuel Station Etiquette: Things you ought to know

Our Editor, Vuyi Mpofu talks frankly about common courtesies many motorists seem to have forgotten

Ladies tell the truth! Some of you are guilty of not paying attention to your surroundings when refueling at a petrol station.   It’s not unusual to see women either touching up your make-up or glued to their phones while filling up the car’s tank.  Asides from the obvious no no’s such as lighting a cigarette at the pump, it seems many women are oblivious to a few other basic fuel-station do’s and don’ts.  Here are 8 things to keep in mind next time you pull into your car’s favorite drinking spot!

DO  Stay in the car until the attendant has completed your transaction.  Too often, people leave their vehicles at the pump and go into the store to get refreshments.  You might call it multi-tasking but the rest of us call it selfish and irresponsible. Should you not return to your car by the time the attendant is done checking your tyres, refueling your tank and wiping your windscreen chances are pretty high that your car will hold up traffic to that particular fuel pump. The ripple effect is frustration to other customers and makes the attendant look bad. 

Keep your volume turned down…way down! 

DO  Watch what the fuel attendant is doing.  It’s not unusual for an attendant to misunderstand the amount of fuel you have requested.  Depending on pronunciation and language, R100 could sound like R200.  Fuel attendants are people too and should be forgiven for not hearing you properly, particularly if it is a busy time of the day or if the driver in the car next to yours has their music blaring at full blast. By staying in the car and watching the pump you can avert these nasty surprises.

DO  Keep your volume turned down…way down! I am always amazed by people who pump up the volume in public spaces.  While your song-of-the-moment might be the best thing you have ever heard since COVID-19 hit the world, to the rest of us, your behavior is inconsiderate, rude and just plain wrong. We don’t want to hear your music, we have our own so, turn the volume down or turn it off completely.

DO  Lock your car and double check that it is indeed locked. Opportunistic crime is common and ever on the increase.  Should you need to go into the kiosk or restrooms, ensure that nothing of value is left in sight. It is not the responsibility of the fuel attendants to keep vigil over your car and belongings.

The distance from the pump to the kiosk door is less than 200m but some drivers peel away from the pumps as if they haven’t paid for their fuel

DO Smile and be courteous to the staff.  Regardless of how your day is going or how boring you think your job is, spare a thought for the men and women at fuel stations who routinely refuel, wash windscreens, check tyre pressure and top up engine oil.  This is not the most exciting vocation on the world but a kind word and friendly smile could make a difference in their lives as it would anyone else’s.

Image courtesy of Alton Convenience Centre

DO NOT reapply your make-up whilst the attendant pokes around under the bonnet of your car. Sure, you might not know anything about engines, but it is always a good idea to get out of the car and watch what they are doing. Refilling the water reservoir or oil level are part of your car’s safety system and ultimately, as a driver / car owner you have a responsibility to know such basics.

DO NOT fiddle with your phone for any reason whatsoever.  It is tempting to use the down time to catch up on emails, calls and social media updates, but most fuel stations have signs clearly indicating that the use of mobile phones at the pumps is not permitted. The reason for this is that phones have been known to cause sparks that ignite fuel vapors causing fires. If you, like myself, have a heightened sense of self-preservation, do not use your phone until you are well clear of the fuel pumps. 

Image courtesy of Shell South Africa

DO NOT let kids and toddlers out of the car unaccompanied. Fuel stations are generally populated by vehicles and just as you wouldn’t let your toddler cross the road on their own, the same logic applies at fuel stations.  Sure, the distance from the pump to the kiosk door is less than 200m but some drivers peel away from the pumps as if they haven’t paid for their fuel (in some instances they haven’t), creating life threatening encounters for pedestrians. Encourage your children to wait until your car has been refueled, so they can safely use the walkway to get to the store.

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