Gasoline fills our tanks and our conversations these days. People talk about the high price of fuel; the effects of the internal combustion engine on the environment; and, our dependence on the Middle East for our supply. Obviously, these are pressing concerns that everyone should worry about. However, when I pull into a filling station something else concerns me. Gas pumps think humans are stupid.Think about the tank-filling process.
1. The screen provides the following instructions - ”CREDIT – INSERT CARD” or “DEBIT – PUSH DEBIT”.
Sounds simple enough. I pull out my credit card and insert it. I am ready to pump gas but wait…
2. The pump asks me a question – “CREDIT OR DEBIT”?
Obviously, the pump thinks I am an imbecile. I followed the instructions and inserted the credit card. Are we really as dumb as the gas pump thinks? Do people not follow the instructions? Apparently, that is the case. If people followed instructions, then there should be no follow-up question.
This leads me into another subject. People are mad because the big banks wanted to charge $5 a month for debit card use. Why do people use debit cards anyway? Whatever happened to cold, hard cash? My dad taught me that I should always carry cash in case of an emergency, and I have never heard of any bank charging a fee to use it. Instead of getting mad at the banks, put cash in your pocket. There are no fees; it’s easy to get to; and, you can watch the money leave your hand as you spend it. I am convinced that cards, either debit or credit, lead people to spend more. That’s the real trick of the financial system. But back to the pumps…
3. After pushing “CREDIT”, the pump tests my intelligence again. It flashes “CAR WASH? -YES”. Conveniently, “OR NO” flashes up separately.
This is obviously an attempt by the convenience store to trick me into spending more money. A friend of mine owns a convenience store and explained to me that gasoline does not have a high profit margin. It is used as bait to get us into the store to buy soft drinks, junk food and other high markup items. However, pay-at-the-pump means that many people do not go into the store. How do they make up for the loss? They depend on us being in a hurry and automatically pushing “YES” for a car wash.
I am convinced that the gas pumps, or the people who program them, think we are stupid.