Monday, November 28, 2022


Trust issue when fueling up

Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
I have a problem with trust. I trust my wife, I trust my dog, but I can’t bring myself to trust gas station attendants that don’t trust me first. I know I should be setting an example for them, but it makes me nervous. Let me explain.

I pull the motorhome up to a gas pump in small town America. I get out and the first thing I am greeted with is a sign that says, “Prepay before you pump.” I don’t use credit cards, so I have to go into the cashier and hand him or her a hundred dollar bill (or more). Nine times out of ten I don’t get a receipt unless I ask. When I ask they look at me like I’m a pain in the keister or that I don’t trust them, which I don’t. But remember, first they think I am going to fill my motorhome with gas and make a run for it.

Am I being unreasonable? Should I chill out, or at least act cool about the whole thing? Should I be optimistic that I won’t get ripped off? Should I have more faith in my fellow human beings even if they have pierced lips and a tattoo that says “KILL” on the fingers of the hand that takes my money? —Kill Bill in Cody

Dear Bill:
If you have a motorhome, you are surely going to kill most or all of those bills if you fill up today. I know it doesn’t seem right or good business to not get a receipt when you hand the clerk a C note. Most large chains automatically give you a receipt to bring back for change, if there is any. You have every right to ask for and receive a receipt if you want to hassle with that. Most people would gamble on the fact that they are going to use most of it in the form of gas. That way if you ever do have a problem with retrieving your change, most of the bill went for the fill.

I understand you do not use credit, but you might want to consider a debit card. It works the same way, saves you a trip in to meet the clerk, and leaves you a track record of where you’ve been and what you spent. If you continue with the cash dash, do whatever makes you happy. You should not take a guilt trip every time you ask for a receipt before you pump. It is, in fact, the right way to do business and maybe you are teaching management a valuable lesson in customer relations.  —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

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Marv thomasson
5 years ago

Stations usually only have the clerk/cashier working and no one to watch pumps. A busy station can often not see all the pumps and when they are in use. I have yet to see a pump that didn’t give a receipt unless it was out of paper. It also has these little numbers giving you the amt and cost on the pump face. Takes but a few seconds to write it down. Perhaps if a wife is present, she can stay in the station to guard your money. I believe its the credit card issuer that set the amts that can be charged on a card, not the station or oil company. Usually the clerks will ask if you want a receipt in my experience. I’ve traveled through every state except Hawaii and in 5 or 6 Canadian provinces and nobody seemed surprised I wanted a receipt…

Calvin Rittenhouse
5 years ago

Has anyone mentioned skimmers yet? Paying at the pump is risky. So, for that matter, is using credit or debit cards. That clerk I don’t trust any more than the original person does may be using some method to “harvest” your information.

chris p hemstead
5 years ago

I don’t understand how someone can drain your account.

5 years ago

Chris, there may be a skimmer device on the pump that was added by a crook. If so, the crook can get your debit card # and your PIN, and then go into your account just like he was you, and that’s all she wrote. Your account is drained.

To be aware, look at the card slot to make sure it is not loose. Look all around above the key pad to make sure there is no camera, and no overlay on the key pad.

5 years ago

Debit & credit cards often mean having to make multiple transactions due to $50-100 transaction limits. Sometimes you still have to go inside, leave your card, come back for it. AND they want you to tell them how many $$ you’ll spend on that transaction. AND many debit cards immediately put a hold on your card for $100 or more, and don’t necessarily remove it when you complete the actual sale transaction. If you’re on a tight budget it could mean the difference between a clean purchase and the next purchase resulting in an “overdraft” situation because of the extra that was “held”.

5 years ago

As BSchneider commented, don’t use a debit card – way more risky! If you insist, use your ATM card in CREDIT mode instead of debit. Yes, theres a difference in the protections.

I’m not sure of your reasoning for NOT using credit… but some other options are prepaid cards, station specific cards only good for gas, station cash cards (which EFT draw like checks from your account), and of course estimating your fuel usage closely or intentionally underpaying/underfilling slightly to ensure spending the bill.

(Personal Safety Consultant by day)

chris p hemstead
5 years ago

You really should use a credit card.

Bill Barnett
5 years ago

Kill Bill in Cody, Your question about paying before a gas fill-up hit the nail on the head. Thank you both for the question and answer.

Vince Sadowski
5 years ago

Not sure why you wouldn’t use a Sam’s Club Master Card that gives you 5% back on gas, 3% on travel and 1% on everything else? I typically get back over $300 a year as a full time rv’er.

Bill Schneider
5 years ago

Using a debit card is not good advice. If your card is compromised, you can have your checking account drained before you discover the theft. Your bank will restore your account if you notify them in the required time frame, but the inconvenience in the interim can be a real problem.
I would recommend a credit card with a low credit limit to be used exclusively for your fuel and other rv related costs. You will have the convenience of pump island fueling with limited exposure if hacked or compromised.
Good luck,

Edward Price
5 years ago

If you pay via a credit or debit card at the pump, you will often find the pump’s computer limits you to something like a $100 purchase. This limit is often the default limit chosen not by the clerk, the owner or the gas company, but by the firm that sells the pump control software. Sure, the default can be changed at setup, but most operators don’t bother and just leave the default in place. I have sometimes seen a pump that will allow you to make a second purchase, but not a third (try driving in Canada where the fuel goes for over $5 equivalent per gallon). Sometimes, you can pump another round from a different pump, but there are no guarantees. So, don’t {bleeped} to the clerk, as the kid is clueless. And, if you are so worried about being cheated of your change, learn to estimate your fuel needs, and have some tens or twenties so that you can overpay just a little bit and not have so much cash at risk of not being refunded. Eventually, you will get so good at estimating that you can take the few dollars refund and blow it on a coffee or candy bar.

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