A new paperless system is helping Forecourt Trader of the Year Sewell on the go to achieve a fuel cost recovery rate of 89% from customers who claim to have no means of payment.

Before introducing the paperless Forecourt Eye system, Sewell on the go – which operates 12 service stations in the Yorkshire region – had an annual fuel loss bill approaching £20,000.

Forecourt Eye uses a tablet to capture customer information and a photographic record of each incident. The device can be used to digitally report a crime directly to police or issue a paperless “ticket” and initiate an instant payment recovery process.

Signage on every petrol pump warns customers that the Forecourt Eye system is in operation, and notices, also displayed inside the service station, set out the payment recovery process and highlight an additional deterrent: a £6 surcharge on top of the fuel cost for failure to pay at the time of filling up.

Sewell on the go’s operations director David Craven-Jones explained that the company trialled Forecourt Eye for three months in 2016 before rolling the system out this year across all of its 12 sites.

He said: “It was clear fairly quickly that Forecourt Eye was delivering good results and so it made sense to move from a trial into ongoing use of the system.

“What makes this solution stand out compared to others in the market is that it has a built-in crime reporting platform for drive-offs with direct and instant links to police and it is completely paperless.”

He added: “The industry’s been grappling with the crime problems and the no means of payment customers for years, and now we are in a position to fight back with a cost-effective answer.”

Sarah Spafford, manager of the South Cave site, said: “The number of people who fill up and then say they can’t pay has been rising in recent years and it has become a real problem. You get to know certain customers who try this regularly and there are some people that appear to treat being unable to pay as a temporary petrol loan until pay day.

“It can be a really challenging situation for retail colleagues and so we have always provided good training and support, but now Forecourt Eye has made the process clear and simple and it’s working really well. In many cases, the moment we start the process and request ID and a photo, customers will find a way to pay there and then – or the system will kick-start a payment recovery on our behalf.”

Trainee manager John Dalby added: “It’s really revolutionised how we deal with this problem and the fact that it is instant, paperless and simple to use means we can present a formal yet professional approach to the customer.”

Nick Fisher, Forecourt Eye’s CEO, explained that a soon to be released update of the Forecourt Eye system will provide advances in the technical features rolled out to its customers, including Sewell on the go.

He said: “The results at Sewell on the go are very pleasing but by no means isolated. The Forecourt Eye system uses a blend of data capture software, ANPR (automatic numberplate recognition) technology and very soon facial recognition, to provide a solution that captures an incident instantly – typically within 90 seconds – and creates a report at the click of a button.

“We are also now regularly demonstrating our system to police forces to show that the industry does have a response to a growing problem and we are keen to work together to save police time while reducing crime.”

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