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home : opinions : letters to the editor August 1, 2014

2/2/2013 7:30:00 AM
A plea to those who 'forget' to pay for gas

To the editor:

I started working at a local gas station as a retail clerk six months ago. I love my job and serving the customers in this area.

Recently I had to pay for a customer who drove off without paying for their gas. That means I worked an entire shift for them.

During the past six months, I have stopped nine other drivers from leaving without paying. They always say they simply forgot. I want them to know that I and my fellow employees have to pay for the full price of their gas when they "forget."

To the person who did not pay for their gas: You may have forgotten but I never will.

Never leave the station without a receipt because that is what the police will ask for first.

Gregory Burkett, Rhinelander

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Arten

Well, Pat, what you describe at UPS is different than the situation here. Tremendously different. A discrepancy in pay, or forgetting to collect (dereliction of responsibility), is different than customer theft. What would you suggest ... the cashier at the gas station run after the car and throw themselves upon the hood until the customer stops and pays?

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Chris Hansen

Pat, I am talking from experience here. These cashiers are instructed to call law enforcement even when it is a system error that caused them to lose their money. If it is a system error, then it is not a theft. Law enforcement is doing them a public service by collecting their debts. The vast majority of these gas drive offs are system errors. I'm saying that no other businesses seem to get law enforcement's help in collecting debts caused by system or employee error. I don't dispute that there are actual thefts that take place. And Pat, it is possible to defraud with a card. What I am saying is that it is not a fraud when the person swipes their card and the system fails. The pumps during business hours are set to allow a person to either pay inside or pay at the pump. This means you can simply pick up the hose and start pumping without having to pay first. People will still swipe their card and if it does not go through, the pump is still going to pump gas. However, the customer has no way of knowing that the transaction didn't go through. Is this a theft? I contend it is not, yet law enforcement is still called to collect this money for the station.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Pat Maass

Mr. Hansen, we have talked before. I believe we have had mutual respect. I'm missing something here. If your card is not accepted, you do not get gas. There is no misunderstanding. I believe Mr. Burkett is referring to people who opt for cash and then run. It is not a mistake. It is intentional. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you use a card of any kind, you cannot defraud.
Once again Mr. Burkett, good luck. I, as the rest, would like to know your employer. I would definitely boycott his establishment.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Pat Maass

Well folks, not sure where you all have worked in your lives.
I can tell you from experience, that UPS has fired people over Collect on Delivery (COD) discrepancies. If your COD money did not match your turn in, you were in serious trouble. These days most things are paid for before delivery.
However, they still have you sign a paper before you deliver any "high value" packages. You can still be held accountable for anything over $1,000. Do you want to fight UPS? I don't think so.
Good luck Mr. Burkett!

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Chris Hansen

What is missing from this argument is that a lot of these so called thefts are not thefts at all. People swipe their card at the pump and as far as they know the transaction goes through. If the person attempts to pay and there is a malfunction with the system it is not a theft. There was no intent to deprive the station of goods or services. Yet when there are malfunctions, these stations call law enforcement to collect their money for them. This is often done by a query of the "suspect's" license plate number. If there is no crime then wouldn't this query be a violation of the Driver's Privacy Protection laws? Either way persons should always get a receipt to protect themselves. Maybe eliminating pay at the pump during business hours might help.

Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Article comment by: Craig Strid

There is not a store that deducts from an employee's check for retail theft losses. Business theft is a responsibility of the employer and if an employee assists in apprehension they should be rewarded.
Deductions from your check cannot be made without the approval of the employee. I believe that employer theft is worst than gas theft. At least an employer can't say I forgot when his intent was to deprive you of your earnings. It is theft no matter how you spell it. Hiding under a blanket of righteousness does not always cover deceit.

Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013
Article comment by: Karen Pierce

I would check into this, as your employer is wrong for taking your wages for a customer who drives off whether it be by accident or on purpose. I also would like to know where you work and I will probably find out, because I will not stop at an establishment that takes wages from an employee for a customer's theft. This business has insurance. There are some businesses around I hear that tell the employee they will take money out of their wages. Employees need to check into this.

Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Arten

Gregory ... you may want to check into this. Charging the staff for customer theft may be against federal workplace laws, especially if it causes your wages to fall below the minimum wage.

And frankly, I can't imagine working for an organization that would garnish the wages of its employees to compensate for customer theft. That's just plain slimy. I wish I knew which station you worked at so I could avoid purchasing there. I wouldn't want to be putting money into the pocket of your station owner.

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