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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Pay to pump? Poll finds 80 per cent would prefer to fill their own tank

Out of almost 4,000 votes cast, four out of five people said they’d rather do it themselves, despite the fact summer is fast approaching

A petrol station attendant fills up a vehicle while a driver walks to the shop on Wednesday. As of later this month, there will be a financial incentive to pump your own petrol. Reem Mohammed / The National
A petrol station attendant fills up a vehicle while a driver walks to the shop on Wednesday. As of later this month, there will be a financial incentive to pump your own petrol. Reem Mohammed / The National

Almost 80 per cent of people say they would prefer to pump their own petrol rather than pay a fee for an attendant to do it.

That’s the result of an online poll conducted by The National following Adnoc Distribution’s announcement on Tuesday that it will charge customers who want attendants to fill up their tank.

Out of almost 4,000 votes cast for our Apester survey, four out of five people said they’d rather do it themselves, despite the fact the searing heat of summer is fast approaching and many people are unaccustomed to filling their own tank.

The new service is part of Adnoc Flex – a new choice of fuel services from the fuel distribution arm of Adnoc. From mid-April, customers in Abu Dhabi can pick a “premium” service or a self-serve option. People with special needs and the elderly are exempt from the premium charge which has yet to be announced but is expected to be small. The self-service option will remain free.

Across the city on Wednesday, motorists said they might pay on occasion but all agreed that the cost of living was rising.

Nihal Karagoz said she would rather fill her own tank but "there will be instances where I will – not so gladly – pay money for an attendant to fill my tank".

"These include when it is really hot outside. I used to be an epilepsy patient and I cannot tolerate heat; when I am in a hurry and in my office attire running for a meeting; or just to make sure one more expatriate labourer keeps his job ... Everything is becoming online or self-service, many jobs are disappearing due to this and there are millions of people that need to be employed, some of them are already in the UAE," said Ms Karagoz, who is from Bursa, Turkey.

"The expenses are definitely increasing."

Gilles Khairallah is a French expatriate living in Abu Dhabi.

"Realistically speaking, I don’t believe the UAE is ready to fully switch to having the residents fill their own tanks," he said.

The summer was potentially a good time to introduce it, he added.

"There is shuffle of expats, people are away for holiday and everyone wishes not to have to step in the heat … why not?" But Mr Khairallah said it also felt like expenses were increasing. "I personally have reduced my expenses because of the new tax [VAT]."

News of the fuel change also generated a lively response on our social media pages with some wondering if the self-serve option would lead to huge queues at the pumps.

Others said it would be easier to keep track of how much they were spending on fuel, while some wondered if the move would have any impact on the tips given to hard-working attendants.

Bill Carter, chief systems and innovation officer at Autodata Middle East, said be believed most people would still opt to have their tank filled because it is the normal practice but there were other issues to consider. "I can foresee problems for people who have never had to fill their tanks before with the wrong fuel being selected!"

Mr Carter added that those on lower wages may not be so keen.

"The lower paid workers will think twice as they have been hit hard by rising fuel prices since removal of the subsidies," he said.

Adnoc Distribution is also piloting a new service called MyStation.

Customers via an app can order LPG cylinders or have fuel delivered to their home by a mobile fuel truck.

About 77 per cent of people surveyed said they would not choose to have fuel delivered to their home, while 23 per cent said they would.

John Carey is deputy chief executive of Adnoc distribution.

“Adnoc flex is all about choice. Our fuel customers will have a clear choice of a premium service for a small fee and with clear benefits, a self serve option and, over time, a delivery service we call 'my station'." he said. "As consumers we all have dozens of choices in our daily lives – for example whether to valet park our car or not – so we believe customers will come to appreciate the various options we’re providing.”

It’s believed the new system will come into force in mid-April at about 40 stations initially before being rolled out across the network. There will be clearly designated channels and attendants for those wishing to use the self-serve option or those opting for the premium service.

Staff are already trained in the new system. If you wish to pump your gas, then first you must place the palm of your hand on a designated spot on the pump to remove static. Then you fill the tank and can pay with cash or card. If you choose the premium, then the attendant takes care of everything. Filling your own car is standard practice in many countries.

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Read more:

Pump your own or pay: Abu Dhabi petrol stations to roll out serving fee