x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Self-service petrol pump experiment gets the chop

Enoc says that its self-service experiment at 10 petrol stations would not be continued and all its stations would revert to full service.

A customer filling up with petrol at an Enoc station off Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai. The self-service pilot scheme has been discontinued.
A customer filling up with petrol at an Enoc station off Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai. The self-service pilot scheme has been discontinued.

DUBAI // Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) said yesterday that its self-service experiment at 10 petrol stations would not be continued and all its stations would revert to full service today. The company said the three-month pilot scheme showed that self-service was not widely accepted by customers and would not be successful. Some Dubai residents criticised the system introduced by Enoc and said they would prefer self-service stations if the system were well organised.

The critics said the Enoc procedure was too complicated. Motorists were required to pay a cashier for what they expected to pump before filling their tanks. If they did not pump the correct amount they had to return to the cashier for change or to pay the extra. "I don't mind having self-service, but the way they were doing it here was wrong and wasted a lot of time," said Robert Babekuhl, an Australian who has lived in Dubai for a year. "You should be able to fill up and then pay, which is pretty straightforward, and the self-service way is what I am used to.

"For me full service is a novelty, which is great, and it was a bit of a shock when I first came over. Either way is acceptable to me now." Ronak Chaudhary, an Indian accountant who has lived in Dubai for four years, said: "There is no need for pampering at a petrol station. It just adds to the time. Self-service can get it done quicker, and you feel satisfied that you're doing it yourself, provided they give you proper instructions. The idea is to make it simple and easier for everyone to do it. If it's complicated, then no one is going to bother doing it. We live in a pampered society, so such initiatives should be encouraged."

Rana Helou, a Lebanese woman who has lived in Dubai for more than two years, said she thought that full service at petrol stations was faster than self-service. "Some people are so slow when they fill their own cars," she said. "At least with full service you don't have to wait; it is much quicker." For some the main concern was the weather. A resident pointed out that drivers did not want to have to stand in the sweltering summer heat filling up their own cars and then have to attend a business meeting drenched in sweat.

Saeed Abdullah Khoory, Enoc Group chief executive, said in a written statement that the experiment provided the company with data that would help if it decides to introduce self-service in the future. "In general, the multinational and cosmopolitan UAE community understands self-service fuel retailing as it is common in many countries abroad," Mr Khoory said. "Enoc will continue to look for ways to win wider acceptance for self-service retailing, and all customer feedback we have gathered in this project will be evaluated and considered in all our future activities."

In Abu Dhabi, Adnoc launched a self-service pilot programme at 15 stations in March. Unlike Enoc's scheme, Adnoc customers have the option of using self-service or full-service pumps. However, most of the time motorists pulling up at a pump labelled self-service can still have their tanks filled by an attendant. @Email:nsamaha@thenational.ae