What’s a few extra cents?

2016-02-11 06:00
Make sure you pay for the correct amount of fuel you asked for at a filling station.                                                                           Photo: file

Make sure you pay for the correct amount of fuel you asked for at a filling station. Photo: file

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YOU arrive at a service station and request R200 petrol, but the attendant fills R200.05 and swipes your debit card accordingly.

You brush it off thinking, “what’s five cents”, but is this legal?

Recently, a motorist had to pay R9 extra because the petrol attendant was talking to a colleague while filling up the vehicle.

“I initially asked for R100, but she filled R109 and I had to pay it. She asked me to pay the extra and said she was afraid of her manager,” said Bongekile Qwabe of Shelly Beach.

Simon Lourens of Southbroom said this had happened to him on many occasions and the majority of the time he had no idea that his debit card was being swiped for more than he had initially requested.

“It’s only after the attendant punches in the amount on the speed-point device that I see the few extra cents being added. I often thought this must be illegal,” said Lourens.

“If you pay cash, the attendants don’t ask for the surplus. Most of these pumps are advanced so attendants can programme it to stop filling once it reaches the requested amount. Why attendants don’t use this feature is beyond me,” he added.

Trevor Hattingh, spokesperson for the National Consumer Commission said the petrol attendant’s actions were in contravention of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

“The Consumer Protection Act deals with this matter in two sections­ - Sections 19 and 21,” he said.

Section 19 (7) provides that if the supplier delivers to the consumer a larger quantity of goods than the consumer agreed to buy, the consumer may either reject all of the delivered goods, or accept delivery of the goods and pay for the agreed quantity at the agreed rate, and treat the excess quantity as unsolicited goods in accordance with section 21.

Section 21 (1) (d) provides that if a supplier delivers a larger quantity of goods than the consumer agreed to buy, the excess goods are unsolicited unless the consumer has rejected the entire delivery, as contemplated in section 19 (7).

“The consumer may take action against the petrol attendant and can elect to either reject all the delivered goods - in this case the entire amount of petrol put in the car - accept delivery of the goods, accept delivery of the goods and pay for the agreed quantity at the agreed rate and treat the excess quantity as unsolicited goods,” said Hattingh.

“They can ask to see the manager­ and bring the provision of the Act to their attention,” he added.

He said a complaint can be lodged with the National Consumer Commission (NCC) or the provincial consumer affairs office in KwaZulu-Natal, which will need to assess the matter and subject the parties involved to alternate dispute resolution processes.

“If the latter process fails only then may legal proceedings be instituted by the NCC on behalf of the consumer,” added Hattingh.

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