Service Stations?

Service stations; what a quaint name for a place where the chance of anyone providing anything remotely resembling service is as likely as Bill Heffernan, Gearge Pell and Fred Nile going to Ellen and Portia’s wedding. I hate service stations. It’s not the high price of petrol that gets to me, although of course I miss the days of paying around sixty cents a litre, it’s everything else that makes filling up your car that little bit more unpleasant.

Having the correct tyre pressure is probably one of the most important pieces of regular maintenance that you can do to your car, it improves your fuel efficiency, improves handling and braking and also makes your tyres last longer. Why then, does it seem that an air compressor and pressure gauge no longer seem to be a necessity at many servos? There’s every excuse under the sun as to why you can’t check your tyres, “broken”, “pinched”, “I don’t think we have one any more” and too many others to remember, but the basic message from these places is “We don’t care if your car is safe to drive or not”.

This time of year, with huge variations in the weather, another necessity is the ability to clean your car’s windows. Is a squeegee, some detergent and reasonably clean water too much to ask? It seems so as I battle with washing implements that appear to have been constructed by some peasant from the dark ages and buckets full of black goo which seem to leave my windscreen dirtier than when I drove in.

Self serve is a crappy excuse for businesses to cut staff and their service levels while maintaining their pricing. Although petrol stations may have pioneered this blight on the consumer experience they’re by no means the only ones who’ve embraced it, from bank ATMs and airline check-in to supermarkets and department stores we’re being pushed to look after ourselves while still handing over the same amount of cash we always have. What’s particularly galling about this phenomenon is that to make self serve more palatable, businesses have deliberately reduced their customer service by opening fewer counters or checkouts so we have to queue longer.

Considering the fact that almost the only people left unemployed and still looking for work are those who have low skills it’s doubly annoying that businesses everywhere seem intent on eliminating entry level positions where perhaps some of these people could gain some training and participate in the workforce. Losing the opportunity to be cashier might not seem like a big deal, but there are plenty of benefits to being a part of the workforce, even in low paid sectors, when the alternative is unemployment and welfare dependancy.

I realise that what was supposed to be a whinge about servos has gone a bit Bob Ellis, so for homework I want you to all go and read ‘First, Abolish the Customer: 101 Arguments Against Economic Rationalism.’ by the afore mentioned author. From memory he has much pithier endings than me.

5 thoughts on “Service Stations?

  1. Look, if we’ve gotta have self-serve petrol stations (and obviously we do) then how about introducing an e-tag so we don’t have to make that loathsome trip into the “shop” to stand in a queue and pay some nerdy operator who, in my case, calls everyone “buddY”? Let’s just “fill up & fuck off”.

  2. Thanks JR, I’ll give it a look some time. Although, because I come from a small town, I still believe that everything should be within ten blocks of where I live, making the closure of servos in central Albury particularly annoying to me. The best servo in town from my perspective is the BP on the old Highway near Thurgoona, but I can’t be arsed driving out there just to get fuel, it seems stupid.

  3. I hear you, brother. The air pressure thing is a right royal pain in the arse. My routine for when we go on one of our regular trips to Sydney is to wash the car on Thursday night. Before drying the car, I take it for a spin to get rid of some of the excess water and check the fluids, air and petrol. Only one of the two Caltex servos (for which we have fuel card) has 98 octane but it has the dodgiest air pump in town. The consequence is that I have to attend two servos to service my car for the one trip. Ridiculous.

    As for Ray’s E-tag idea – Brilliant. I seem to remember years ago being able to use the eftpos system at the bowsers but that disappeared. I guess they want to reduce staff but still want me to walk past the chocolate.

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