Monday, 27 October 2014

You Are Probably Getting Robbed There

We Indians have got our own ‘little’ problems stretching from the form of Indian cricket team to the bad roads in our neighborhood. While as much as we enjoy to point them out, criticize, and cry, we are also pretty well endowed not to bat an eye of acknowledgment to anyone or anything (or any government) when something counter-nauseating happens to a larger mass (Not to one individual, mind you. We are very patriotic and proud that way), like the fact that road accidents in our city have decreased significantly in the last year, or that the petrol price has decreased considerably in the past few months (whatever be the reason, it has decreased for gods sake!!)

So, upholding that proud tradition, I would like to completely ignore the positive aspects of my previous line and cry about something else that has bothered me.

Dishonesty. In general. And the ones at petrol bunks in particular.

While dishonesty about our new look or shirt or dress is quite welcome, it is not so much the case when we are trading our Gandhian notes for services.  What I am about to say might sound familiar if you have a two or four wheeler (or even a three) and if you take that out to your nearest petrol bunk for refilling. If it doesn’t sound familiar, well, it is all the more reason to continue reading this.

So, has it ever happened that after refilling your tank with some amount at a petrol bunk, you notice the pointer on the petrol indicator just lying there, lazily dwelling the pits instead of springing up?

You know that you did not fill it with such a less amount that it wouldn’t have made a difference to the pointer. You wonder if the indicator is malfunctioning but that too would seem relatively less plausible after a while. You might then suddenly remember reading about the recent crackdown on petrol bunks, and wonder if it was a classic case of tampered dispenser unit, but those raids pertained to dispensing a shortage of hardly few milliliters. And also, you might be just too proud to believe that you were taken for a ride. So you pass it off.

OR else, you are not ‘too’ proud and relatively sensible, and slowly come to the striking, sinking realization that you have paid tax for your lack of attentiveness (or for the over dose of shyness/innocence) by just getting robbed, swiftly and efficiently.

While this happened to me once, a while ago, when I was too naïve to think of the world otherwise ( and also when I had just started using a two wheeler), I am now a self taught expert on recognizing the rampant conning at petrol bunks and would hence like to pass on this knowledge to other ‘once-me’ beings out there.

So how can one get robbed at petrol bunks?
Simple. You pay for innocence.

And how does this happen?
By the three common attention diversion tricks that ‘they’ employ:

Trick 1 You are poor at math or too stupid:

You say “bhayya ‘500’”

He has listened, and you know it. He takes the fuel dispenser, pumps out 200/- petrol and stops. He acts cool, and puts his hand forward to take money, and you are puzzled as you said ‘500’ and not ‘200’. And you convey the same.
He smiles. Makes eye contact, covers you up from the digital indicator of the petrol dispenser and says “Did you say 500? I heard it as 200”. And casually laughs (or can frown too, depends on the style of actor), and walks back almost whispering, in a way that you just hear it, but are not sure of what he said exactly, “I am putting it to zero, see” (it, here, means the digital indicator of the fuel dispenser unit)

And he doesn’t actually let you see it as he takes two steps directly in the direction of your field of vision and you are too shy to bend your neck and look at the indicator, or too kind to insult an unknown  random person’s honesty. Hence unable to recognize the obvious, you just end up putting your faith on the brighter side of human race. He pumps the petrol, clears your view of the indicator after about few seconds and shows you the indicator approaching 300/- mark.

But what he in fact does is, to just continue from the 200/- mark but fill it slowly from 200 to 300 in those few seconds, and then speed it up as it approaches the 300/- mark just as he clears the view for you, fooling you by acting as if he has started over from zero. This is expert stuff. Even though it is easy to recognize this immediately as the time taken to fill 300 rs worth of petrol is different from that of 100/-, one cannot confront now, thanks to self doubt.

This trick can be carried out for other denominations of say 250 (where they break at 50/- mark and continue from that and stop at 200, feigning a simple “initial 50+ final 200= total 250”) or at any other denomination depending on the gullibility of the customer and the talent of the one dispensing. 

2: The Card Trick

Just as you say “500” or “200” or even “100”
He would make eye contact, and say, “cash or card?” (seriously card for 100 bucks?)

You would say “cash”.

And he would stare down right into your eyes as if you have spoken something blasphemous, and say “there is a 5% cashback on so and so card”, all the while going back to the dispenser unit and acting like setting it to zero and coming back to stick it into your fuel tank.

He continues blabbering about the card for a few more seconds if you have failed to break the eye contact and starts dispensing the petrol, and before you realize it, he has swiftly continued dispensing the petrol from where he left off with the last customer and NOT from ‘zero’.

And if you do move or break the eye contact, or refuse to make eye contact before he dispels the petrol, he would either set it to zero beforehand or give a sheepish grin and set it back to zero the second time acting as if the indicator was strangely acting of its own accord.

3: Give me some money
This seems to be a newly developed trick where two guys con. One handles the dispenser, one the money. The guy collecting the money is the key here as he asks the money from you, simultaneously as the other one is busy adjusting the dispenser indicator (acting as if setting the indicator to zero, but in fact he just leaves it unchanged from where the previous customer had left) and sticking the dispenser into your fuel tank.

And at this moment, if you are not attentive and are busy taking out notes from your wallet, then god bless! Extra paying time!

So, all these tricks are relatively easy to fend off, if only, one is neither too innocent nor stupid.

Considering my roots, I would like to conclude this “the engineering” way.

1.       Do not fall into the initial trap of making eye contact. Be attentive and make sure the indicator of the dispenser unit is set to ‘zero’.
2.       Don’t be shy. Speak out. Confront.
3.       Don’t wear your dim wit hats
4.       Attention is key
5.       Pay only after you fill the tank with petrol.

Source: Friends and live observations.

Thanks! And Peace out!

PS: Special Thanks to all those who have found and read this post through indiblogger! ^_^ 


  1. The card thing happened with me. But card was blocked, thanks to some stupid reasons, and i escaped, the card trick. Humor aside, it never happened with me. :] But there are times, when you are looking at your lovers face, or your ma is ringing your phone, beta khana kha liya, and then you say, haan, i think in this time, they get into the act. Make you ULLU or something like that.:)

  2. Haha Lucky you! :) Yeah, they are always on the look out for the 'ULLUS'!