Shopping, fuel and upfront payments

Shopping is one of life’s rituals. For some, it counts as one of life’s escapes from reality. But it would certainly be a rare occasion if grocery shopping is considered one of life’s treats – many would consider it to be one of the things you have to do but don’t necessarily enjoy. What is it about it that makes it so menial? Perhaps it is the drudgery of buying common every day as opposed to buying treats or once every so often purchases. We would most certainly approach grocery shopping as one of the things we dislike.

The advent of technology has made it easier to do our shopping online and have it brought to our homes, but despite this, there will still be the odd occasion when we have to pop into the supermarket. So imagine this – what if the supermarket, to an already disagreeable process for most, started adding another layer of complexity by asking you for a debit payment first, then refunding you the difference if you went below this debit? You may think that this is a weird situation to be in. How could you be expected to estimate the cost of your purchases before you had even walked in the store?

This is what some service stations are proposing – that customers pay up front for their fuel purchases, then get refunded for what they did not use.

The reason why this is being considered is because of fuel theft. Drivers have been driving into fuel services stations, filling their cars up with petrol, and then driving off the forecourt without paying. The theft not only costs lost revenues, but also wastes police time because policemen now have to record, investigate (albeit perfunctorily) and close the case, and there is little chance of conviction; and all these detract from the real serious issues of policing, such as violence on the streets.

ASDA’s trial of upfront fuel payments did not go well and they recalled the scheme. But it is not as far-fetched as it seems. Many people charge upfront payments – according to the Piano Teacher Finsbury Park website, some music schools charge termly fees for lessons in advance, so that they are not messed around by clients. Perhaps the next time you go into a coffee shop, you might pay twenty pounds for a coffee card, beep it for your purchases, and then top it up occasionally? These would mean your coffee purchases are actually faster!

Food for thought and thoughts to fuel your day – sorry about the puns!