Suspicious pricing at the pumps

Nazeem Karim, Fish Hoek

I have recently noticed the overcharging of fuel at the Shell petrol station in Main Road, Fish Hoek and Shell in Simon’s Town.

As a regular, I always just pulled up and either filled my car or boat tanks and moved off. The other day, while filling up, I took notice of the price per litre, and it was showing at R21.12 per litre which is incorrect.

I decided to check at the BP garage 20 metres down the road and their pricing was correct at R21.09 cents per litre. I then drove to the Shell garage in Sun Valley and their advertised price per litre was R21.09. It may seem that 3 cents per litre for a single customer isn’t much money, but this does multiply exponentially by volumes pumped and duration.

I was alarmed and decided to pull out all my receipts for the month of May. I noticed that the price was incorrect on all of them. This, however, indicates that this Shell petrol station has been charging an over-inflated fuel price for a while now.

Unfortunately, I had already discarded my other slips so cannot confirm how far back this over-inflated price has been charged. The owners and/or managers were never on site and nobody was able to provide a date and or time as to when they would be on site so I could ask them about this.

Nobody was able to account for the over-inflated price.

I have also noticed that the Shell pricing signage on the forecourt was also out of order.

I have recently discovered that petrol stations must, by law, display price notices on their premises and that this legislation is known as the Retail Price (Diesel and Petrol) Displaying Order, 1997 and is enforced by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. It is evident that these owners/managers are acting unscrupulously and misleading customers by charging an overinflated price as well as not displaying what the price is supposed to be.

Furthermore, I was informed that the Shell petrol stations in Fish Hoek Main Road and Simon’s Town have the same owner. I took the liberty of driving to Simon’s Town to see what those pumps were set at for Unleaded 95 petrol. This too was set at R21.12 cents per litre.

I am guilty of not paying 100% attention and will in the future make certain of these things when filling up.

It is, however, disgusting that this blatant overcharging is taking place and it would be appropriate for the owners to advise when they will correct this overcharging.

It would be prudent for the owners to also provide comments as to what the total illicit income has been since the inception of the overinflated price and how they will be returning those funds. As a suggestion, they should donate the total amount of the illicit funds to a charity as a gesture of good faith.

• Shell owner Y Naidoo responds: During the evening of May 25, one of my petrol attendants informed me that a customer had approached him to complain about our petrol price and that the customer had taken pictures of our pumps. I then asked the cashier to print the prices from the point-of-sale system. I was surprised to discover that the price had changed from R21.09 to R21.12.

The site manager then immediately contacted the Shell global network support centre to change the price back to R21.09. Until the petrol attendant brought the complaint to my attention, I was unaware that the price had changed. Both sites experienced electrical issues with missing phases during load shedding, and, unfortunately, our critical infrastructure was connected to the missing phases.

However, this would only have endured for a day or two. The non-functioning monolith at Fish Hoek has been an ongoing issue with Shell for the past couple of years. The monoliths are manufactured to a global standard overseas and Shell was not able to procure replacement panels during the lockdown. I have recently been advised by my territory manager that an alternative model will replace the monolith in the near future.

I would have greatly appreciated the customer approaching the cashier and either leaving his contact details or obtaining my details. The feedback from the site staff was that he did not do so. I am present at both sites, every day, including Sundays, for varying times at least two to three times a day.

• Automobile Association (AA) spokesman Layton Beard responds: The fuel zone of petrol stations determine the costs per litre of fuel. There are many different fuel zones in each province and the price of 93 and 95 unleaded is determined by which zone the petrol station is situated. One petrol station may be in one zone and another, just 50 metres down the road, in another zone and may have a different fuel price. This is determined by the cost of transport to the various zones. Fuel prices in Limpopo are the highest as transport costs are more expensive.