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How to verify that I'm not getting ripped off by gas station technician quote
September 16, 2009 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I drive away with the gas nozzle still in my car. Dumb, I know. But, now the attendent says I owe him $692 to have it put back in by a technician. How can I validate this amount?

It's a sketchy bodega, so I don't just trust a receipt. Don't want to get police involved as the attendant was nice enough to agree not to contact my insurance. However, I want to make sure that I pay the correct and fair amount.

Is there somewhere online I can verify this? What kind of technician would i call for quotes.

Please help as I have to pay by noon tomorrow and he will say he already hired the technician by then.
posted by ilovehistory to Work & Money (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This probably has happened at many gas stations. Go to another station in the area and ask them what it cost them.
posted by exogenous at 3:47 PM on September 16, 2009


Yeah, your best bet is to call around. Other gas stations in the area, and alternatively try calling (perhaps from a pay phone if you're worried) one of the larger gas stations' head offices.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:51 PM on September 16, 2009


Please help as I have to pay by noon tomorrow and he will say he already hired the technician by then.

That was fast! Sounds shady, to me. I'd get a second opinion from another gas station.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:52 PM on September 16, 2009


Just a data point, but a friend did this at a BP in Chicago and was charged like $150
posted by mockjovial at 3:52 PM on September 16, 2009


Maybe call these folks: Excel and ask them. They might know a technician in the area who could give you a quote.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 3:52 PM on September 16, 2009


I did this once too - the gas station demanded something like $200, we had a couple of phone calls, but then they sort of forgot about it and I never paid.

The $692 sounds very high to me -- I would offer maybe $200 and say its all you have and see what he does. He may just drop it.
posted by Mid at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Weird. I did this at a gas station outside Seattle (i.e., not a sketchy bodega) and the hose was clearly designed to break away harmlessly. There was no leakage (the gas had shut off by this point) and it was obvious to re-attach. I just put it back on and drove away.
posted by Cogito at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2009


I did this 6 years ago and they charged me $80. They are designed to pop off. (Apparently in the old days if you did this the gasoline would spew until they shut the pump off- hence the new pop-off design.)
posted by small_ruminant at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2009


What?

The attendant can't "call your insurance", nor can he force you to pay by tomorrow. He's ripping you off.
posted by ellF at 3:59 PM on September 16, 2009


Please help as I have to pay by noon tomorrow

Or what? Seriously, what's he gonna do at 12:01 tomorrow? Nothing. You're getting ripped off. If he doesn't accept a fair and reasonable offer, let him take you to small claims court. IANAL.
posted by desjardins at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I did this ca 2001 and the station didn't charge me anything.
posted by Palamedes at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2009


I did this once and the attendant told me not to worry about it--no charge. These things are designed to be easy to reattach. Unless the station has some weird nonstandard pump, this guy is trying to rip you off.
posted by washburn at 4:12 PM on September 16, 2009


I got dinged $100 from a place for this. Even though the hose looked like it would be an easy re-attach, I thought it made sense that they have it done professionally to ensure that it wasn't leaking or anything.
posted by jasper411 at 4:16 PM on September 16, 2009


Maybe you could swing by the gas station later on tonight? If you are lucky, it may have been already reatteched by a highly-skilled "technician."
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 4:36 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't this kind of thing the courts are for? Something happened, they think you owe them money, if they want it, they need to take you to court, prove it happened, prove the damages, and get a judge to make you pay. I wouldn't pay them anything just because they WANT me to.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:45 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is the technician replacing the nozzle, or have you returned it?
posted by wongcorgi at 4:58 PM on September 16, 2009


You are being ripped off. For an exact amount like $692 he will be pocketing the money.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:04 PM on September 16, 2009


The gas station carries insurance for exactly this reason. You're getting ripped off, almost certainly.
posted by Jon-o at 5:12 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


ignore it and see what happens....
posted by HuronBob at 5:34 PM on September 16, 2009


I did this too! I live in Oregon...so we have attendants here, and although I felt sheepish I thought the attendant should have put the nozzle back--so I didn't feel 100% at fault. I got papers from the gas station that I ignored. They just quickly gave up which made me realize that it is probably something that happens often enough that they give it a shot to recover, but that it is probably considered the price of doing business. There may be liability...but he should produce something official (an invoice from the home office for example) and certainly there would be no urgent reason to be paid for it since he has coverage himself. Honestly, if I were you I would disappear and make him find me. Don't worry about his turning you in. You can always claim ignorance and say that you thought his coverage would handle it.
posted by naplesyellow at 6:04 PM on September 16, 2009


I worked at a gas station for a couple of years. We had a few people drive off with nozzles and it was never a big deal. We never did anything other than look over their car with them to see if it was scratched and tell them to have a nice day.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 6:08 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did this in 2003; the hose was designed to break away and was easily reattached.

I'm calling shenanigans.
posted by girlstyle at 6:12 PM on September 16, 2009


They are ripping you off. I did this at a Shell or BP station (I can't remember which) in 1997, the day after I proposed to my wife, who despite having witnessed this, still decided to marry me.

They didn't charge me anything, and like others who have posted above, the pump had a breakaway mechanism, and no damage was done to my car or the pump. They said to not worry about it, so I didn't.

I did, however, attempt to reattach the hose myself, which resulted in me getting sprayed with a facefull of 87 octane, just as we were leaving for a seven-hour car ride.
posted by 4ster at 7:14 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Its often pretty straight forward to manage these things. Ask questions. If its legit, they'll have good and verifiable answers.

Ask for information on the company providing the technician.

Follow up by asking for a copy of the document that provides the $692 price.

If you get the info, consider giving the company a call.

Whatever happens, you may consider writing a letter to the CEO of the gas company, detailing your experience.
posted by jjderooy at 7:34 PM on September 16, 2009


Ask them the name of the company that will be doing the work and when, and tell them you will show up with a check made out to them at that time. See what happens...

Or throw them $20 and ignore it.
posted by gjc at 8:13 PM on September 16, 2009


I've done it twice, once for no charge and the other time charged $100. It's vaguely possible that something actually got damaged, but as many have said the parts are designed to pop off and be replaceable.
posted by anadem at 9:53 PM on September 16, 2009


Everyone above is correct. You can probably safely ignore it, as far as paying goes...

Nthing visiting the station tonight & tomorrow - I bet the hose is already re-attached. Take pics w/out them knowing. It would be AWESOME if they claimed the pump was still broken when it was actually in use and making them $$.

PLEASE DO GET THE POLICE INVOLVED. Stop in to the local precinct and follow their advice, file a report - whatever it takes. In this day and age, those hoses are designed to breakaway - this is extortion.

FWIW - they "offered" not to contact your insurance because insurance companies would know this was a scam.

(Just for fun, tomorrow you should request in writing that jerk-head provide you a receipt/estimate for the repair -- do this via a fed-ex or usps return-receipt letter. Do you have a lawyer friend who can write/send this written request? Even better. )

**I get the feeling from your post you gave him your contact info. Keep an eye on your credit, they could forward the fake repair bill to a collections agency. Your nice fat juicy police report should stop that noise in its tracks. Plus your documentation.**

You'll be fine. Just CYA and report those jerks to the authorities.
posted by jbenben at 10:30 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thinking about this, it occurs to me that in California, they have fancier hoses that syphon off the vapor as you pump. I understand this reduces pollution. I don't recall having seen that system used anywhere else.
posted by Goofyy at 6:36 AM on September 17, 2009


i can't tell where you are, but a nozzle alone costs maybe $50.00. It is actually another part called a breakaway that is designed to do just that, breakaway, so you don't screw up the pump. A breakaway for gas size hose costs maybe $40.00. In most states an auto shut off nozzle is required but the breakaway is not. It is feasible if they didn't have a breakaway, you did some damage to the pump itself where the hose connects to the actual base. Doubtful, but possible. Did just the nozzle pop off or did the hose become disconnected?

My vote is they are trying to screw you. If they insist on having you pay, insist on being the person to hire the repair company. Call a petroleum equipment service company. Petroleum Equipment Institute members should be legit companies.
posted by domino at 7:24 AM on September 17, 2009


Even in California, my mom has done this a number of times (she's an airhead), and hasn't been charged. I think some recon photos are in order.
posted by booknerd at 8:40 AM on September 17, 2009


So what happened? It's got to be after noon, wherever you are in the US.
posted by desjardins at 2:39 PM on September 17, 2009


I have taken the advice and just not called back. I am still thinking about contacting the police since i let this guy copy my license and registration and preventing him from doing it to others.
I drove by the place and say that it was in tact and fine. I took another gander at what it looked at, and it really did look super simple to reattach.

But I mean, how shady can he be considering he runs a store front right down the street from me?

I can't thank everybody enough for their input. Metafilter has saved me $600 I was about to shell out, due to fear of higher insurance. It's people like him that take advantage of nice folks that are trying to do the right thing by pressuring them to shell out money under a time limit.
posted by ilovehistory at 2:43 PM on September 17, 2009


I am still thinking about contacting the police since i let this guy copy my license and registration

CALL THE POLICE. Who knows what he will do with this info? You need a paper trail just in case.

how shady can he be considering he runs a store front right down the street from me?

He tried to steal $692 from you. That's how shady.
posted by desjardins at 3:47 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


UPDATE:

I am happy to report that I confronted the man with the information you have shared and he was trying to extort me 100%. He became flustered, said he had insurance, and then hung up on me. Thank you
posted by ilovehistory at 4:00 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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