Why Australians Don’t Use Pay at Pump

Lots of Service Stations in Australia now have Pay at Pump systems. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone use them though. Yesterday I decided to give it a go at my local Caltex Woolworths Petrol station, and I found out why no one uses them.

Pay at Pump is just too hard
Pay at Pump is just too hard

Firstly you have to pay before pumping. I know this is the norm in some places, but generally in Australia we don’t think about paying until after we’ve already filled up. By that time you are locked into going inside. If you can pay after pumping by going inside, why can’t you pay after pumping outside?

As if pre-paying isn’t bad enough, they pre-authorise your card for a payment of $100. It warns you it can take up to 24 hours to release the unused funds. I usually fill my tank for about $50-60. Why should I have an extra $40-50 locked up for 24 hours just for a little convenience?

Usability is another major problem. I had to go through 5 screens, pressing buttons to select options before I could actually start pumping petrol. This took a couple of minutes. After finishing pumping I again had to go through a few screens with options before I finally got confirmation I had completed and paid.

I scanned my Woolworths Rewards card, although it took about 10 tries with the reader to make it work. You’d think you’d just present it flat to the camera, but no that didn’t work. Had to try a number of different angles to finally get it to work. That was a waste of time though because it didn’t apply the discount offer I had on the card.

Overall it was just a bad experience and I don’t intend to ever use it again. It seemed like a good idea. As a parent of a young baby, it’d be easier to not have to get her out of the car to go in to pay. After having used it, I think it’s easier and more convenient to go inside. I have to wonder if it’s a conspiracy to try to get people to buy stuff inside the store.

I don’t know why they’re even bothering with Pay at Pump if they’re going to provide such a bad customer experience. It should just be a matter of pumping your petrol, swiping your Woolworths Rewards card, tapping your bank card and off you go. Ten seconds max. Not ten screens and two and a half minutes of button pressing either side of the pumping.