The news that Shell is to reintroduce forecourt attendants to assist you with filling up with fuel has divided opinion in the office. So why is cars expert Lewis against the idea and Conversation’s Charlotte in favour?
Lewis would like cheaper fuel
Not so long ago, forecourt attendants were a common sight in British petrol stations. But cost cutting measures have meant these roles were phased out and customers had to get to grips with the pump themselves – a challenge many passed with flying colours.
Personally, I believe all motorists should be able to carry out basic car care. By this I mean tasks such as checking oil levels, topping up screen wash and checking tyre pressures. These are fundamental checks which should be undertaken regularly. Shell claim that its new forecourt attendants will do all of this for you – great if motorists take their advice on board, but I just can’t see that happening in the majority of cases.
A key principle behind the scheme is to save the customers’ time, the idea being that customers are in the kiosk paying for their fuel while the checks are being made. By speeding up the process, Shell will be able to get more vehicles through the pumps – not to mention more cash through the tills – so how much time these attendants actually spend with the customers remains to be seen.
I also see this as an attempt to justify higher fuel prices. With motoring costs increasing, many customers have turned to supermarkets in an attempt to keep their fuel bill down. The latest figures from the AA show that average supermarket prices for unleaded petrol are 2.9 pence per litre less than the UK average. So if Shell were to match these supermarket prices, it’d be a far greater incentive for me to use them then adding on extra services which are not needed.
Charlotte would appreciate the help
Lewis has a bit of a head-start on me being a ‘cars’ man. But, as someone who passed their driving test a little later in life, I think many forget the nervousness felt by many individuals who didn’t learn to drive in their teens.
I’m pretty good at doing my under-the-bonnet checks. In fact, I’d go as far as saying I enjoy it. But when it comes to filling up my car at the petrol station, I go into melt down. The petrol cap on my car is fiddly. By the time I’ve lined up the cap at the correct angle and twisted it off, I’ve developed a queue of cars behind me.
Next is the tricky technique of getting the nozzle in. I either neglect to get it in far enough, or have forced it in too far, meaning the mechanism continually ‘clicks’ out. This results in one of two things – the drivers in the car pointing and laughing, or some poor person getting out their car to come to my rescue.
The prospect of someone who works at the petrol station assisting me with this humiliating ritual would really restore my confidence in driving – and save me having to take a chaperone with me when it’s time to fill up. If the service meant I had to pay a little more, I’d be happy to do this for the extra peace of mind.
Do you welcome Shell’s decision to bring forecourt attendants back to our petrol stations? Or would prefer to see cheaper prices instead of this extra customer service?
Would you like petrol stations to provide forecourt assistance?
No - I agree with Lewis, I'd rather do it myself (69%, 333 Votes)
Yes - I agree with Charlotte, forecourt assistants would be helpful (31%, 151 Votes)
Total Voters: 489