Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Service Centre: Jac Roper on protocol, pumps and putting 2019 behind us

An issue with protocol

In the April issue I aired some of Deen Yacub's problems with TLM's evoPOS system at his Station Road Service Station in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. It was all resolved nicely.

But by mid-October he emailed again: "Again we are facing the same issues. The amounts showing different pump to till, amounts not appearing until customers have left, till freezing, back-office work not being able to be done. They have been quick enough to blame BT's broadband connection yet BT have tested the line and have given the all clear. They are saying they're looking into this but we are struggling to trade due to these issues."

I got in touch with TLM and got a very full response which, due to its length, I will summarise.

TLM says the problem arose because of the way the BT router had been set up. This created a conflict with IP (internet protocol) addresses.

Being a tech know-nothing who wouldn't recognise either an IP or a router if she found it in her soup, I bounced it all off someone who does understand it all and was assured that this was a familiar scenario and that it all made perfect sense in the world of computer-glitch-conflict.

The TLM spokesman added to all of the above: "We have made some physical and setting changes on the site's network to take all forecourt devices away on their own (to give them unique IP addresses). Now anything else that connects to the site's network shouldn't get the chance to jump onto the same range. We have also changed the router settings so the site is far more secure than what the default settings would offer. You can never 100% guarantee the integrity of the network but we keep on top of this as much as new technology can offer."

He also said he would shortly be visiting the site personally.

Deen confirmed that all the random glitches had now been rounded up and put right. He says: "As of yet fingers crossed the system has been its most effective to date. I understand the networking issue but my point was it was TLM's job to ensure this had been rectified a long time ago as clearly these issues were linked."

It's good to see the lines of communication are now working well all round.

Good pumps, shame about the rust

Ian Ritchie, who runs Victoria Filling Station in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, switched to Tokheim pumps in 2012, spending something like £24K including VAT. He regarded this as a long-term investment. He also says his previous Gilbarco pumps, which were 20 years old, looked in better shape than his TSG ones do now since they have rusted well before their time. And rusted on the outside where it shows. He says it is not the salt in the sea air as had been suggested.

He sent me pictures and said that you could put your hands through some of the holes. He believes that TSG had a problem that year with poor quality paint powder coating.

His other problem has been lack of communication. He adds: "I was never offered a service contract and never had a follow- up." He also pointed out that he knew of a Top 50 Indie group which had had a similar problem with rust and it got fixed but, because he is just a single operator, he is being ignored.

When I asked TSG for a response, the best I could get was: "'We are in contact with Mr Ritchie to work out a solution to resolve this issue."

This is true, Ian has had visits but no real resolution yet. He says: "The pumps themselves are fine reliable. It's just the rust. I'm hoping they will rectify it."

It goes without saying that unsightly rust reflects badly on Ian's site. And he wonders whether anyone else, with pumps installed between 2012 and 2015, has had a similar problem.

Tis the season...

December brings a lot of distractions at the best of times. And this time around we have a General Election and continuing Brexit worries added into the mix. Not exactly jolly japes there but it will cheer up as the month wears on as people concentrate on the commercial.

The official expectation is of only a slight rise in festive spending but it's still a rise.

I'm sure you have already planned well ahead so that you get at least your customary share and hopefully more. So I wish you a very good Christmas season and a safe and prosperous New Year. Here's to 2020!

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 30 March 2020
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East118.96132.05114.52
East Midlands119.01131.46114.46
London119.6659.90134.71116.14
North East116.33131.57110.86
North West117.71131.66113.21
Northern Ireland113.94120.90108.13
Scotland117.18131.78111.83
South East120.0368.90132.46116.19
South West118.30130.34113.27
Wales116.8157.90127.95111.17
West Midlands118.8857.90135.85114.78
Yorkshire & Humber117.69131.84113.09

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