Prepaysterous

August 20, 2008

Not to be outdone by the federal government in meddling, Jeffersonville takes aim at a group of small businesses:

The Jeffersonville City Council is considering an ordinance that would make drivers pay before pumping gasoline — an effort to reduce the number of people who speed away from gas stations without paying.

The problem has become worse since fuel prices soared to $4 a gallon or more, said Police Chief Tim Deeringer. The police department gets up to 10 or 15 calls a day about drive-offs, Deeringer said, but often there is little police can do.

[. . .]

The proposed ordinance would make stores that sell gasoline and diesel fuel require payment in advance, either with cash or credit card at the pump. It would fine retailers up to $2,500 for not complying.

Why stop there? Find out the most common hours the drive-offs happen and forbid the stations to be open during those hours. Require the stations to put in strong lights spotlighting the pumps and hire armed guards and trained dogs and install speed bumps at the entrances and exits.

The story notes that “some wonder if customers will go elsewhere to buy gas if they have to prepay at Jeffersonville gas stations.” Think the council cares? I know which gas stations in my driving patterns require prepay and which don’t. Guess which ones I go to?

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14 Responses to “Prepaysterous”

  1. Larry Morris Says:

    I hate to say this, but this is really bizarre – don’t you think the OWNERs of the stations would want to install prepay pumps or implement it as a policy to stop people FROM STEALING FROM THEM ?? Please don’t tell me you’d have a problem with it if it were the owner’s decision, …

  2. Leo Morris Says:

    Of course not.

  3. Harl Delos Says:

    I have a 20 gallon tank. I want to fill it up, so I pay $75 in advance. It turns out that the tank is full when the pump hits $70.

    They want me to stand in line in order to get a $5 credit to my credit card? The original $75 is gone from my account immediately, but a credit to my card takes two weeks to arrive.

    He can’t give me a cash refund; that’s a violation of the contract he has with the credit card company.

    I guess I’ll just pump the other $5 worth of gas on the pavement….

  4. Larry Morris Says:

    I must be missing something here – pay at the pump is the norm down here, and no one gives it a second thought – I guess I look at it as a convenience, I just pull up and slide the credit or debit card into the pump and fill my tank. I think I been to several “usual” gas stations over the past 10 years regularly without even knowing what they look like inside, … or even if there’s a person there.

  5. Bob G. Says:

    Down in MY part of Fort Wayne’s “ghetto”, ALL pumps are pre-pay – ALL THE TIME.
    Wonder why????

    😉

    B.G.
    (Have Card, Will Gas – Have Gun, Will Shoot)

  6. alex Says:

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a pump that wasn’t a pre-pay, even out in the ‘burbs and boonies. They still exist?

  7. Bob G. Says:

    Yeah…in nice, quiet, SMALL towns (with little ethnic diversity)…go figure.

    😉

    B.G.

  8. MichaelK Says:

    Gas stations have already been increasing the amount they pre-authorize in order to reduce drive-off losses:

    http://consumerist.com/tag/debit-cards/?i=5015904&t=help-the-gas-station-froze-100-for-12-of-gas-and-my-rent-check-bounced

    I would imagine most stations would be against such a prepay *at the pump* requirement as it would mean there would be one less reason for people to enter the store and buy things they actually make money on. Requiring prepay inside the station would make more sense, both from purchases of things inside the store and the chance to make cash sales that don’t require credit card processing fees.

  9. Leo Morris Says:

    Yeah, MichaelK — we’re talking about two different things here, prepay at the pump and prepay inside. I just recently started using my debit card; I think many are still uncomfortable with using one, which would necessitate prepaying inside with all the hassles Harl alluded to. I’ll be damned if I’m going to start using a credit card for a necessity like gas.

  10. Larry Morris Says:

    I guess I must be in the minority here – pull up to the pump, pop in a credit card, pump the gas and go. Pay the credit card off every month and it’s as good as floating a no interest loan for 30 days – untill the credit card companies start charging people like me who don’t carry balances, …

  11. Bob G. Says:

    I’m right along with ‘ya, Larry.
    I do the gas-card 2-step every other week myself, with the ONLY amendment being a LOCKING gas cap I have to remember to UNlock and then RElock…LOL!

    B.G.
    (no balance here either)

  12. Harl Delos Says:

    If you pay at the pump, it’s post-pay. The pump doesn’t actually charge your card until you’re through pumping.

    But pay at the pump doesn’t involve any risk of drive-off, either.

    I get most of my gas at Costco, where you first insert the membership to get it read, then insert a card to have it read. They only accept payment with ATM cards (that is, you have to enter a PIN number), although most banks issue ATM cards that can be used for signature-authorized debit cards as well.

    There’s no annual fee on your credit card, Larry? That’s why I stopped carrying credit cards. I just use the combo ATM/debit card the bank gives me with my free checking account, or my PayPal debit card.

    Seems funny that merchants are quite happy to make a sale of several thousand dollars, by comparing your signature to the one on the card (merchant agreements say they can’t ask for additional ID) yet Indiana prefers that poll workers should instead rely on the fake ID used by underage kids to buy alcohol….

  13. de_tokeville Says:

    Bob, you’re so right about that diversity thing. My nearest gas station is on Dupont, where there’s quite a diverse mix of trailers, apartments and McMansions. And you know it’s because of all those damned white people in the trailers and apartments that we have to pre-pay for gas out here.

  14. Larry Morris Says:

    Harl, all the cards I carry are no-fee, with one exception. The merchants pay more fees for allowing me to use the cards than I do, …


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