My conviction to stand up for myself has been reinforced today. Also, I am reminded to always check at the gas pumps that they start in 0, and that the end number is what I asked and paid for. Pay attention. I know it’s just money, but as I told the manager: I don't have extra money to give to my own kids, let alone giving it to some stranger.
Last Friday night, my daughter, Maia, and I stopped on our way home for gas. I asked for $200 pesos worth of “verde”. I also asked for air in the left rear tire, as I could see that it was low. I paid and left a tip and drove off toward home.
When we pulled up in front of the house, I noticed that the tank was still almost empty, almost exactly where it had been before I stopped for gas. I told Maia that I was going straight back to the gas station to get my gas. She elected not to go, even after I asked her to come and be my witness, and even when I reminded her that she didn’t have a key to get in the house. “No way”, she said. “I’m not going. It’s embarrassing when you do that. I’ll just wait outside for you to get back”.
So back I went, pulling up to the same pump with the same attendant. I explained the situation, and I mentioned that it was possible that he got distracted by the air in the tire and forgot to put the gas in, but he insisted that he had put in the gas, and a female attendant joined the conversation and she suggested that my gauge was faulty. So I said, okay, “Let’s put in $100 pesos and see what happens”. So we did and I gave him another $100 pesos. Sure enough, the needle went up to about a quarter of a tank. That was proof enough for me, but the two of them were not convinced, even though only about 10 minutes had passed since the first time I pulled in there. If there had been $300 pesos in the tank, it would now register about three quarters full, but that logic could not make its way into their heads. He continued to insist, even though the evidence said otherwise.
So, I asked for the manager, who wasn’t there. So I asked for his phone number, and no one knew it. I asked, “What if there was a fire here? Who would you call?”
“That’s a good question”, he replied, scratching his head.
I was beginning to realize that I would get nowhere with these two, so I asked for the attendant’s name. It was Jorge. I was waiting for him to think about the situation and come around to the side of reason and admit that he had made a mistake, but it just wasn’t happening. He suggested that I come back the next morning at seven, when the manager would be there. That was not possible for me, as I had Saturday Market early the next morning, and after that I would be rushing to get to Yelapa for the New Year celebrations and wouldn’t be back for a few days.
Then I drew a little diagram of the gas gauge, indicating where the needle was when we started, and after the gas was allegedly put in the tank, and then where it was after we added the $100 pesos. I asked for the attendant’s name and I signed the paper with the time and date, and asked him to sign it too, which he did. I drove home, thinking, “Well, at least I tried”.
This morning, five days later, I decided to go and find the manager, not really expecting a good outcome. I thought they would just tell me that too much time has passed and there’s no proof, and so sorry, but there’s nothing we can do.
I was admitted to the inner office via an intercom and two electronically controlled doors, where I met the manager of that gas station and a few others. I told my story, including the possibility that it was a case of distraction and not blatant dishonesty, but I could tell that he was pretty sure that it was the second possibility that was more real. I was surprised and relieved to know that he believed me, and I could tell that he was genuinely sorry and saddened. He is a manager who realizes what neglectful or dishonest service can do to business. He UNDERSTOOD! Then he called the shift manager into the office and introduced us, gave me his card and encouraged me to call him anytime if I ever have another problem at his station. Then he gave instructions to the manager to put the gas in my car and also to find Jorge and reprimand him and charge him the $200 pesos.
I wish that more managers were like this one. It is so easy to see that keeping customers happy will keep them coming back to your establishment. I left there feeling like justice had been done, and that I do have some power when I’m on the “right” side, and I also left with a good feeling about that business and the people who run it.
So, the moral of the story is: Until you get to a point where you can afford to just hand out money to strangers, continue to stand up for what is right, even if it does horrify your kids (and keep an eye on the pumps and receipts!).