October 12, 2005
But It's All Right; In Fact It's a Gas
There is a little-known discriminatory practice embedded in one of our daily commercial activities. I'm going to call it "Fuelism."
Have you ever noticed that the auto Diesel pump at many filling stations "convenience" stores [tangent: why did we change from buying auto fuel at a service garage to getting it at the same place we pick up our BBQ pork rinds, Marlboro Lights and lottery tickets?] is banished to the litter-strewn edge of the property? In plenty of other instances, if the Diesel pump is inline, it is an ancient model that does not feature a card reader. It may be surrounded by six or eight fully modern 3-hose gasoline pumps (but harder to get to, being in the middle), and "Pay at the Pump" may be advertised on the store's signage, but do we Diesel drivers get the benefit? Big fat no. [Another tangent: who in the world buys Premium these days?]
Add to this problem the recently elevated paranoia about drive-offs (apparently due to the dramatic increases in fuel prices), mix in the fact that I don't carry cash, but purchase all fuel using a charge card, and I am encountering a full-on obstacle course in reaching the ostensibly simple goal of filling up the car. Take, for instance, my experience yesterday at the Mr. Zip located at 6116 Ringgold Road in East Ridge. Well, let's back up for a second. I had previously pulled up to two stations in a row on Cloud Springs Road just across the Georgia line, and each station's lonely perimeter-bound Diesel pump had a plastic bag over its nozzle. Is there a shortage? Perhaps. But the Mr. Zip near the I-75 interchange with Ringgold Road apparently had Diesel, and had posted a fairly decent price for it, considering.
I pulled up to the pump, and noticed a "sign" taped to it that looked like it had been written by a second-grader. I gathered from the garbled English that I was expected to pre-pay inside. So I walked inside to explain that I was going to fill up and would remit, via charge card, the resultant total upon completion of the sale. The tiny-brained cashier told me that I had to leave my card inside. I am extremely reticent to do this. I told her so, but begrudgingly handed it over. She then handed it back to me, and said "you can hold on to it." Cool, I thought, and walked back out to the pump. I attempted to start it. It wasn't coming on. I tried a couple more times, then walked back inside to see what the problem was. I asked the cashier. She said she was refusing to turn on the pump because suddenly her story was that I had "thrown" my credit card at her. (I had done no such thing. I put it right on the counter, and barely even moved it in her direction; just enough so she could reach it.) I asked, "don't you want to do business with a paying customer?" "No," she said. "It's your loss, then," I shrugged, and walked out, cussing and wondering where I could now go to get a fill-up. I ended up down at the Exxon on the corner with Moore Road, where the cashier at least allowed me to leave my driver license with him instead of a credit card, and where I paid $0.40 more per gallon than I would have at the Conoco station. By this time, I was shaking uncontrollably with rage.
What the hell? Why is it so hard to buy Diesel, when the fact is that I can fill up my gasoline-powered car by swiping my charge/debit card and never having to endure contact with the redneck b*tch inside? I've noticed that in other parts of the country, a majority of places I stopped to fuel up have fully-functional pay-outside pumps — usually with a Diesel component right in the same unit as the 3 gasoline lines. One simply has to push a different button and remember to pick up the green-handled hose.
So, I'm on a quest for pay-at-the-pump Diesel in Chattanooga, and no other station will get my business for this product. (The sad part is that this means the Biodiesel kick I was on whenever I could get over to Benton Oil is also over, unless they wise up and install a modern pump for it.) And the Mr. Zip at 6116 Ringgold Road in East Ridge will not only never see a dime from me as long as I live; they will now have to deal with letters, phone calls, and other forms of harassment (all legal, mind you) for a long time to come.
Miscellaneous | By joe lance | 10:38 AM