Pre-Pay at the Gas Station

Gas stations must have the absolute worst customer service ever. Many of them make you pre-pay (at least the ones near my house) which is annoying. Normally I just pay at the pump and it’s not an issue. But today I wanted to run inside and get a drink. The pre-pay requirement meant I’d have to go inside, pre-pay, come back out and pump my gas, then go back inside to get my drink.

Screw it. I payed at the pump and my bought my drink somewhere else.

I understand why they make you pre-pay. They can’t afford to have everyone drive off with free gas. Especially in my neighborhood it makes sense. But I’ve got to think treating all your customers like thieves doesn’t do much for the community or your customer service. There’s got to be a better way.

12 thoughts on “Pre-Pay at the Gas Station”

  1. You’re right, that is silly.
    I only go to gas stations now where I can swipe my own credit card at the pump, fill my tank myself, and get out of there. Then there is no waiting, no small talk, and I don’t have to enter the store for a thing.

  2. Uhhhhh, yeah, I’m with Jaime. Why not get the drink when you prepay? What you’re describing doesn’t make much sense.

    As for the rest, there’s not much they can do unless they don’t let you pay at the pump. Just about every gas station has cameras, so you’ll get burned no matter what, but even so, I’d imagine they want to avoid the hassle. All the by-product of a society where people are willing to steal. Not really the gas stations’ fault, and I’m not going to get peeved with them for it.

  3. Maybe I should explain that you can pre-pay at the pump with a credit card, or you can go inside and pre-pay with whatever form of payment you like (cash, credit, etc.). Usually I pay at the pump and don’t go inside, not much of an issue. However, if I want to buy something inside, then I like to pump my gas, then go inside to pay and get whatever I wanted to buy. But if they require a prepayment, then I have to go inside, give them my credit card, come back out and pump my gas, then go back inside to pay and pick up whatever it was I wanted. Pain in the butt.

    And who’s hassle are we worried about here, Neal, the gas station’s, or mine? Good business says you eliminate hassle for the customer, not heap it on them.

    Apparently writing this was also a pain in the butt.

  4. OK…. I still don’t get it. Why didn’t you choose one of the following options.

    1.) Pre-pay outside for your gas with a credit card;
    2.) Pump the gas;
    3.) Go inside and buy your drink;
    4.) Go back outside and leave.


    1.) Pre-pay for your gas inside with cash or another payment method and buy your drink;
    2.) Pump your gas;
    3.) Leave.


  5. Jaime, your first option requires two seperate transactions. Pain in the butt. I don’t have the cash on me, and I don’t want a credit card charge for $1.29. However, I’d gladly do one credit card charge for gas plus $1.29.

    I don’t think your second option works, unless you’re planning to buy a set amount of gas. I want to fill the tank. Only way to find out how much that costs is to fill the tank. Thus two trips into the store–unless perhaps you don’t care about a receipt (I do), but even then I’d think they’d make you come back inside and sign the receipt with the final total.

    “Pre-pay” usually isn’t actually pre-paying, the way I understand it. It’s proving that you have the money, i.e. giving them my credit card so they know I’m good for the gas I’m about to pump.

    (sigh) And I think that’s the last time I’m going to bother trying to explain this one. Consider it lost to blogdom.

  6. What difference does it make if you have two charges? The gas station pays for the extra transaction, not you. If it is such a big deal to not have a credit card transaction for $1.29, then maybe you should carry cash…. if you are going to take your drink-buying business elsewhere, then you have the two transaction problem again….

    When I’ve had to pre-pay, they’ve made me pre-pay a set amount and then shut off the gas pump when I hit that amount. If it’s just to show you CAN pay, what would you do if you plan to pay with cash, flash your wallet at them?

  7. If they made the pre-pay process so complicated, Kevin, then yes, they need work. Whenever I’ve prepaid before, I just get the drink at the same time and only make one stop. If they’re not letting you do that, that’s fubared.

    As for the whole prepay thing, I’m still not going to blame the gas station if they have it. I can understand why. Yes, you don’t want to give hassle to your customers, but theft is also an issue. Not sure why I should have a tiny part of my life be easy when someone else is guaranteeing their living, but that’s just me.

    :) Apparently Jaime and I just want to make things difficult for you Kevin, sorry.

  8. LOL… oh my goodness, I can’t believe the discussion here. Kevin, I hear your frustration, no matter how logical or illogical.

    Emotions and logic have very little to do with each other, and I believe Kevin is expressing an emotion here, people. Cut slack. Allow rant. Sentence fragment.

  9. ok people… i run a superamerica store. there are 1000’s of SAs across the country. our policy is prepay or pay-at-the-pump only, this is very new to our area. people think its a personal insult, sorry. people say i’ve been coming here for years… but i see 100s of people everyday, and most of them have been coming for years too. we are now required to hold credit / debit cards and turn on pumps, i personally prefer not too, since we can’t verify it, and opens us up to new liability, and claims of discrimination by those people (especially minorities) who do not have credit / debit card we can hold, but it is what it is. people scream at me and tell me i have ‘f-ing’ cameras. ahem, no, i have 2 cameras and can ALMOST make out plate numbers on pumps 1 and 9, the other 20 are lost causes. i can see the make, but not the color since they are b&w. ever priced a color high quality camera. would you like to buy 4500 superamerica corporate stores new color cameras that can see all pumps clearly, and make out plate numbers? oh and you’re aware that there is no margin on fuel, cigarettes and bottled soft drinks right? most stores make just enough to pay for itself to exist. your welcome. its logistically not possible, in the meantime people steal my gas. do you know that ONE drive-off will take me a MINIMUM 500 gallons for break even? do you know that only 1 out of 20 plate numbers my csr’s ignore paying customers to write down EVER result in recovery? do you know that 2 months before we started prepay only, my store lost $8000 worth of fuel due to drive-offs? hmm, with less than 8 cents per gallon margin… that affects sales, means my store doesnt make money, means that i can’t ever afford those fancy casino cameras that everything thinks we have. you sicken me, customer service is one thing, i want desperatley to take care of my customers in anyway i can. but the customer is not always right, as a matter of fact the customer of rarely right, and typically very naive. since this process started we have lost ZERO money in drive-ffs, and seen a SLIGHT drop in business because some other stations in our area are not prepay yet, but because i am not losing $2.50 – $3 per gallon per drive-off i am doing much better for profit, and even will be able to hire on more people to help our customers even better. how will you feel when you can’t buy your drink or gas, because there is no store because it closed after being in the red for four years because other losers kept driving off with fuel. we do everything we can to make the process easier. to save time next time. guess how much you will need approximately (you’ve had your car for more than a week right? you know what you pay most of the time when you fill up right?) or just pay at the pump. OH and we don’t make anything for selling you 1 diet coke for a $1.29 on your credit card because the transaction cost eats what little margin was there. but we will smile and thank you for stopping in. get over yourself you self-important prick and think about ALL the other people that have to deal with this too, including the people i’m sure you berated when you came in and left your card (oh and did you think to run grab that drink when you came in to retreive your card and complete the transaction they so trustingly allowed?) fool.

  10. Wow, Stephen. Way to show us that quality SuperAmerica customer service. You sure represent your company well and really make me want to get my gas there.

    C’mon, man. You’ve got a legitimate justification there for asking customers to pre-pay. You really could have showed me that pre-paying isn’t such a big deal and convinced me that there are ways to deal with it.

    But no. You had to be a jerk about it. You had to insult me and be mad. This was your opportunity. But you blew it.

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