THE PETROL STATION DILEMMA – CASH ONLY

Credit Cards
I must admit, this is a topic that has become quite a source of frustration for me of late. Yes it’s true, you can call me a man of convenience. And perhaps i have become too accustomed to an electronic life. Even so, this particular topic really gets on my tits. Why is it, in the year 2018 in Malta, the majority of petrol stations do not take bank cards? Why is it cash only?

For the life of me I just cannot figure it out. Let’s be honest, there is a large amount of us now who have gotten into the habit of relying on our cards for making payments. I for one, rarely carry cash around and there is a reason for it. When I have cash, I have a far greater tendency to buy stooopid s**t.  Whilst when I keep my cash flow to a minimum, I am far less likely to “waste spend”. This system has worked well so far.

 

Credit Cards
Cards NOT Cash.. The MODERN way of spending…

On the other hand, we live in a electronic generation. Pretty much all transactions in the modern world can be made via your bank card/account. So why would I need to carry cash with me? Well apparently just so I can put some diesel in my car. FFS. I always get in a huff when that warning light comes on as a reminder that I need to pop in for a refill. Life is hectic these days and time is fleeting, so making an extra trip to the closest ATM (which usually ain’t that close), stopping to pull out money, and then heading to petrol station is just an extra hassle I don’t bloody need.

Now, I know I am acting like a bit of a spoilt brat here, and a somewhat lazy twat, however I like convenience. I am not ashamed to admit it. And I am happy to pay that little bit extra for it. What really get’s my low hangers in a twist, is the fact that in most other civilised countries, paying for your fuel by card is a standard. So why in hell is it not here? If someone can enlighten me as to the reasons, I would be very interested to hear why. Is there a bona fide, justified reason that I just don’t know of?

Local media outlet Lovin Malta wrote an article a while back regarding Petrol Stations in Malta that accept card payments which you can read yourself by clicking on the following link:

https://lovinmalta.com/lifestyle/technology/these-are-some-of-the-maltese-petrol-stations-that-accept-payments-by-card

Great. Five f***ing stations, none of which are anywhere close to my usual commutes. Ain’t that dandy. Simple fact of the matter is, it should be standard at all filling stations that cards must be accepted. It should be written in the rule book that anyone given a license for a fuelling station must also as a standard offer card payments. Simple as that.

Should any legislator, government big wig or Prime Minister be reading this, pull your bloody finger out and get it sorted. We pay too much taxes to deal with this s**t.

 

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Discussion

  1. Sean

    The cynic in me says that they are mostly cash only business for the following reasons:
    1. More taxes can be evaded when its cash only.
    2. Cash based systems are far better to launder money

    1. davidoziborg

      Yep… Good call….

  2. Sean

    How about the Zejtun bypass one Oz? That is remotely near your commute, and has an ATM, where you can withdraw. Still not perfect, but better than nada

  3. Sean

    Not sure why the form keeps insisting I am Sean.

    1. davidoziborg

      There must be a glitch in the matrix…

  4. Cheryl Jordan

    In my opinion it’s all about the money… the fuel stations in questions do not want to pay the bank any money for the transactions…. simple.
    Your convenience is their greed! Roll on 1919… oh sorry that was 100 years ago!

    1. davidoziborg

      Indeed. I must admit to not being an expert on the profit margin of the retail fuel industry, but I would think it isn’t too shabby? Then it just comes down to greed and profit margins…..

  5. Bernard

    Very good article. And what about those outlets which do not accept cards unless you spend a minimum amount? Never came across this whenever I was abroad. I used my card even for a coffee or a small bottle of water. And don’t tell me because of bank charges because the charge is a percentage of the total amout.

    1. davidoziborg

      Yes Bernard,
      Agree 100%. The question is, does being a small nation hinder us in terms of profits? Or generally are local business men greedy for a higher profit margin? The thing is it is not consistent. I have seen many small vendors who do have card payment service, which must obvious come out of their profits, but they see it as a better service for their clients. I think anyway you look at it, it is an individual decision made by businesses made on profit margin. Funnily though I am certain that these “cardless” business end up losing more money because they dont accept cards. So what sense does that make?

  6. Duncan

    Apologies for the long(ish) reply, but here is a reason why:
    Local card acquirers (ie the companies/banks who issue the ePOS machines) charge a commission fee on every transaction. This varies between 2% and 3%, with a minimum transaction fee. So to make it simple, if I fill my car with €50 of fuel and pay with my card, the station owner gets between €48.50 and €49 depending on the commission. Many people don’t fill up like that, but fill up in small amounts (€10 – €20). In that case, depending on the minimum charge, the fuel station owner may get even less for the sale. This hurts the individual’s profit (which for fuel stations it is a small commission paid by Enemed or whoever the supplier is for distributing their fuel). Bottom line, if we pay by card, fuel station owners get less profit. What I do, is I pay by cheque. It’s not as good as credit cards but works for me.

    1. davidoziborg

      Hi Duncan,
      Very interesting reply. The question then becomes why is it standard abroad and not here? Is it the banks fault? Do petrol stations really make such little profit? I find that very difficult to believe. Somewhere, somehow there has to be a solution, the big question is, what is it?

  7. Paul Nailor

    When my alcohol low indicator goes on I find it’s so much quicker with cash at the bar. Given how often that indicator goes off I usually have more than enough cash for a petrol fill up too. There are set up, equipment, training and ongoing coats with suppliers using card payment. They don’t want to pay. Top tip – always have a 20 euro note somewhere secret in the car. Just don’t forget where u put it…… 😎

  8. Claude

    Supposedly there is an eu directive on the matter which amongst other things addresses atms. Essentially most petrol stations in Malta are non eu compliant (like many other things). So it’s within all our right to complain. Then again our politicians are way more interested in offshore accounts as always was the case.

  9. anon

    Returning to this thread because I got further information. It is pretty much what Duncan said, albeit the percentages that banks ask of fuel station owners are different. Apparently they ask for more than 5% (up to 7%), with profit margins for fuel station owners ranging around 10%. So, if we assume a maximum charge of 7%, fuel station owners would be making “only” 3%.

    So, I honestly do not blame them. I feel 90% of people would start paying with a card, and 3% profit does not make a lot of sense in my opinion.

    Whose fault is it then?

    Next-best option is to find one station on your usual route (work to home, or home to work) and use their custom cards / tags to top up your account. Just keep the tag with your car key.

    N.B. – My source is a fuel station owner, so I choose to be anonymous please, but feel free to not publish this comment.

    1. davidoziborg

      I appreciate you taking the time to look into these things. Certainly makes for a very interesting read. I really am not sure why the banks need to charge so much for such a service, but hardly surprising seeing as we are constantly raped by bankers purely because we have no choice. I may take your advice regarding my own filling situation. Thx.

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