It’s funny how things change over time, including the everyday retail experience. With our frenetic daily life getting more crazy and demanding over the past decade.
There was a time within the past three generations that even stopping to fuel up your car was considered to be a special event, with attendants providing value-added labor including checkng the air level in the tires, cleaning the windshield, and checking the oil level as the fuel was doled out.
During my early years, full-service was available, but most drivers opted to pump their own fuel, check oil, and go inside to pay.
Fast forward ten years, and payment at the pump becomes the norm. I have been glad to have this become commonplace, especially when the girls were very small. When driving, stopping to fuel up when you have a sleeping infant in the car, it would be very difficult if it were still necessary to rouse the baby(ies).
The pumps allowed you to either pay at the pump or to pay inside. Later, it became the norm that if you chose to pay inside and if it was after dark, you would need to go inside and pre-pay, which made sense to diminish the problem of people driving off without paying.
Later, it became common that there are video cameras watching at all the pumps, so anyone who does drive off will immediately prosecutable via video evidence.
Fast forward to today, and there’s an issue. Stop at any random gas station, and you likely only have the option of paying at the pump. If the option exists to “pay inside” and you choose it, you are immediately prompted to go inside to pay.
The issue I have with this is twofold: One is that with the fluctuating price of fuel, I have no idea how much to prepay fur a top-off. Guessing wrong means another trip. The prepay-only option is moot with all the cameras. The second issue arises if you primarily use modern payment options, and do not carry cash, and happen to want anything from inside. The convenience store is actually where the highest profit margin is set, so these gas stations are actually shooting themselves in the foot by forcing transactions to be made outside. In order to not have TWO transactions, I can’t begin to quantify the number of times I have opted out of going inside, where being able to hit “pay inside”, topping off the tank, then going inside for a bag of sunchips and a bottled water, and being able to make it a single transaction would help the station more, not to mention the local economy as a whole. I know the extra few bucks isn’t much, but times many visits, times many people who do things similarly…. You can see the probabilities.