Happy New Year to you all. Can you believe that we’ve already had 15 years of the 21st century? Every time I think of the 21st century, I’m transported back to my school days when we all imagined that by now, some of us would be living on the moon. Of course, it’s not happened yet, but technology does evolve in leaps and bounds, not least payment technology.
I’m a big fan of contactless cards they are so quick and easy. Although the detractors always say ’What if someone stole it? Think how much they could use it before you realised’. I get their point but it hasn’t put me off. I was considering use of contactless cards in forecourt stores and, at first, thought they’d be no good because who can fill a tank for less than £30 (the current contactless cap). However, research points to more and more drivers topping up their tanks little and often just like they top up their fridges so contactless may be worth considering.
Then there’s the thorny issue of pay-at-pump or even paying before you fill. Now, having been to the US twice last year, I’m not averse to this at all but then again, I don’t run a petrol filling station.
On our second trip we had a Ford Mustang convertible for the duration but we did hire a Corvette for a day as a treat. When we came to fill this up, we had no idea how much its tank would hold. I went into the forecourt store, they debited my card for an agreed amount but, surprisingly, my fuel bill was less than that amount. So they simply reimbursed me for the difference. It may sound like an awful faff but it was a really straightforward transaction; the cashier was not at all bothered by it. But then they have the technology, and drivers over there have been paying this way for years.
Over here, there’s the new Fill Up & Go app from Shell. I haven’t used it yet but like the idea. It sounds simple choose how much you want to spend, scan the QR code at the pump from inside your car, then Fill Up & Go. I suppose the only worry here is about whether customers do stay in their cars.
I know that some in the industry are worried about mobile phones, and specifically their apps, being a distraction which could result in mis-fuelling or accidental spills on customers’ clothes or shoes. Whether their fears are justified remains to be seen.