Ft - Jac Roper - Service Centre

 Well, it’s not really the film I’m referring to with that headline. Does your petrol station have a night hatch? I had no idea that it was such a love-hate service. But I watched an episode of Room 101 the other night.

For those unfamiliar, it is a BBC comedy TV series based on the radio series of the same name, in which celebrities are invited to discuss the pet hates and persuade the host (Frank Skinner) to consign those hates to oblivion in Room 101. The location’s name, according to Wickipedia, was inspired by the torture room in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four which supposedly contained ‘the worst thing in the world’. And here’s a fun fact: Orwell himself named it after a meeting room in Broadcasting House where he would sit through tedious meetings.

The man who consigned the serving hatch to Room 101 was Warwick Ashley Davis. Again for those who don’t know, he’s an English actor who played the title character in Willow and the Leprechaun film series, and also several characters in the Star Wars film series, most notably the Ewok Wicket, along with numerous other roles. Oh, and he is only 1.07m high (3ft 6in) so some of his complaint was height related, but not all. (“What if you want a baguette?”)

“Why don’t they leave the shop open and put them [staff] in a glass box?”

Then they showed some CCTV footage of two suspicious characters aiming rocks at what clearly turned out to be unbreakable glass on a forecourt because both thugs got knocked down by ricocheting rocks.

Anyway, Frank Skinner turned out to be quite a fan of the night hatch and instead chose fiddly bracelets as the ‘winner’, quite rightly in my opinion.

As I’m sure you do all know, the night pay hatch is typically used as a way to keep a shopfront open with a single member of staff, maximising hours of trade while reducing the risk to staff.

Not everyone sees it that way. I came across an online criticism that went like this: “When they close up the petrol station and you have to order the night employee around like some monkey boy porter to get you things. Does anyone else hate this? Don’t you feel like some kind of princess telling the guy to go back and get the other type of milk, and go back and bring me another chocolate bar. So undignified for both parties.

“I hate the whole set up. It’s ruining my life, I’ve started driving 2km extra to a Tesco just so I don’t have to sound like an 18th century plantation owner.”

My my. I don’t suppose they were around in the second half of last century when self service supermarkets were springing up everywhere. Before that you had to queue and ask the ask the shopkeeper for each item to be fetched from the shelves. Many of the products were measured and weighed in the amounts asked for and then they were packaged up. This of course made shopping a slower process, and, as more staff were involved, more expensive.

I contacted KS Security to see if they knew how many operators used night hatches and although they didn’t know a spokesperson confirmed that they had received “numerous enquiries from 100s of forecourt’s across the UK and the vast majority enquire about our Secure Transfer Unit or our Flush Fit Pay Window”.

The former is used for the secure exchange of cash and bulk items in a retail environment, typically for use in petrol stations, pharmacies and local convenience stores. And the latter is a secure external payment window designed to transfer goods between the secure to the non-secure side of the wall but without protruding permanently from the external wall surface and offers the staff a secure method of selling goods to customers.

The company recommends that this type of unit should be installed under a canopy

The unit comprises a flush draw type transfer unit that sits below a physical attack resistant glazed security screen, which incorporates an audio system and induction loop for the hard of hearing.

The unit is primarily designed for use within garage forecourts and 24 hour pharmacies, for the passage of prescribed drugs, general pharmacy products and general store products.

The drawer is lockable from the inside for when not in use, with a removable cover to close the unit leaving the counter top, a clear workable surface when not in use. It will take items such as 2 litre bottles, bread, 4 pack of toilet rolls, 74 litres of milk, bottle of wine and prescriptions.

KC Security also supplies and installs many other products including security counters, security screens, cash drawers, secure doors, and independent audio transfer.

You can email your queries, news and views to Jac@roper-biz.co.uk or call 0208 8502 9775