Be careful while getting your car filled at petrol pumps across the city as chances are that you could get less petrol or diesel than you have paid for.
Consumers, who have been shot-sold, suspect that they are being repeatedly cheated, saying that several fuel retail outlets in Bhopal indulge in malpractice to dupe them.
They said that fuel-stations have devised innovative methods to tamper with fuel-dispensing machines to increase the fuel delivery pulse while making sure that the money charged and supply was shown accurately on the machines.
However, consumers are either ignorant of the ways to check the accuracy and quantity of fuel dispensed at the retail outlets or do not bother to lodge complaints with the concerned authorities and oil companies. Hindustan Times talked to several such consumers to know their experiences of frauds at the retail outlets.
One of the most common practices used by petrol pump attendant was filling fuel in "breaks"— filling fuel in two or more turns— they cheat by either by manipulating the flow of petrol-diesel in the pipes or by resetting the meter, said Anju Singh, 32, a consumer.
Despite clear instruction for filling for a specified amount, the attendants, often pretend that they have not heard the instructions and fill it in breaks.
But complaints by are few and far between even as consumers get shot-sold and in the process are set back by thousands of rupees every year. Often consumers are left fuming over their vehicles for giving lesser average because they do not know they are being delivered lesser petrol at the pumps.
In the last one year, while the district consumer forum has received just two complaints of cheating in quality and quantity of fuel, the All India Consumer Information Centre (AICIC) received about a dozen complaints.
"We receive only a few complaints related to petrol pump frauds because people don't bother to register complaint…Customers don't realise that their complaints not only create awareness among people but also stop corruption and cheating," said state AICIC secretary Vijay Saxena. Oil companies say that they conduct checks on retail outlets, if specific complaints are received.
"In the last 10 months, we received about six complaints related to cheating at petrol pumps from across the state. Our team visited the petrol pumps concerned and took action against the pump owners…customers should also come forward to lodge complaint to stop such malpractices," said India Oil Corporation deputy manager (retail) G Ramesh.
Fuel-station owners blamed a few attendants for the malpractice, saying consumers should be more vigilant to help them stem the fraud. "Customers should pay attention while filling the crude oil. Sometimes, a few attendants try to cheat customers by not resetting the readings on the machine but even in that case, customers don't lodge complaints to the petrol pump owners," said petrol pump association president Ajay Singh.
"If customers start to complain to owners such fraud by attendants could be reduced," he said, adding, "The fraud by installing software, which took place in Shajapur district, is not possible in Bhopal…the petrol pumps…are automated and have new technology."