Riding through Uttar Pradesh we unearthed a pretty innovative scam at Indian Oil petrol pumps. Whenever we stopped for fuel we always tanked up. But since we were going to load our motorcycles onto the V-Cross in Noida and drive to Goa, we didn’t want the tanks full. So Alvin and I decided to fill fuel worth 100 rupees which would get us to Noida with some fuel to spare.
Shortly after leaving the fuel pump my low fuel indicator light lit on the console. I was surprised. The light wasn’t lit before I entered the fule pump and I had just filled more than a litre of petrol. I had ridden just a few kilometers since filling fuel. It was impossible for the fuel indicator to light up so soon. I thought there must be a malfunction and continued riding. But then I also noticed that my distance to empty number hadn’t increased after I filled fuel. It was as if I hadn’t filled fuel at all.
We stopped for a break after a while and I learned that Alvin was facing the exactly same situation. His distance to empty number hadn’t increased after filling fuel. We concluded that we had been duped. That aside, we still needed to fill fuel to reach Noida. So we stopped at another Indian Oil pump and I was hell bent on figuring out how the scam actually worked. I had a plan.
This time I asked the attendant to fill up the tank. He inserted the nozzle into the tank and it stopped pumping after a short while. I told the attendant that the tank wasn’t full. He responded in Hindi, “Oh! Maybe I misunderstood. I thought you said to fill 100 rupees. Wait, I’ll fill up the tank.” He proceeded to reset the counter and pump again. As he crossed 100 ruppes part I asked him to stop because I didn’t want the tank full. I just wanted to confirm my suspicion of how the scam worked.
Pause reading here and try and see if you can figure out the scam….
It goes like this. At least this is what I think is happenning. The fueling station is rigged such that the first 100 rupees of fuel isn’t pumped at all. The nozzle stops “pumping” after the counter reaches 100 rupees. While this is happenning the attendant distracts you by asking you questions. In my case he started asking questions about my helmet mounted GoPro. When you tell the attendant that you wanted to fill the tank up or fill fuel worth 300 or 500 rupees, he resets the counter and then actually pumps the right amount of fuel. This way he gets to add the first 100 rupees to your bill which becomes his scam income.
At the first Indian Oil pump, Alvin and I actually asked for fuel worth 100 rupees. So we unknowingly played right into the scam. We paid 100 rupees and got no petrol into our tanks. That’s why my low fuel light lit up immediately after leaving the pump and our distance to empty numbers didn’t rise after filling fuel. At the second Indian Oil pump, I suspected that the nozzle would stop pumping at 100 rupees and that is exactly what happenned. I had made it very clear to the attendant that I wanted to fill up the tank. But yet the nozzle stopped pumping at 100 rupees.
I let the attendant know that I had caught him. He tried to defend himself. But I explained to him exactly what he had done and what the attendant at the previous Indian Oil pump had also done. His body language was a dead giveaway. I didn’t want to make a scene. This was Uttar Pradesh after all. Its not a place to fight and argue with locals even if you are right. So we paid the amount (including the extra 100 rupees) and quietly left the pump.
Before leaving the pump we asked for the fuel slip. The attendant punched a key on the fueling station and out came a piece of paper. The paper was further confirmation of the scam. The slip didn’t have any Indian Oil branding on it. There was no name or address of the pump. Absolutely no way of identifying the pump which issued the slip.
We shook our heads, smiled at each other and rode away.