Pain at the pumps

Several cars affected by the contamination are parked at the garage as their owners wait to hear from BP management.

BP’s old slogan was “We like to keep you moving”, but that was far from true at the petrol giant’s Letchworth Drive filling station in Edgemead last week after motorists complained of getting the wrong fuel.

Jo Lennox-Goodenough, of Edgemead, told Tabletalk how, after filling up her 2011 Kia Sportage at the station at about 1pm on Thursday April 5, she had broken down just two streets away.

She said she had suspected immediately that her car trouble was linked to her filling up.

“This was confirmed by a passing motorist who saw us, stopped and told us that there seems to be a problem at BP.”

She said her dealership had later confirmed there was diesel in her car’s tank instead of petrol.

Ms Lennox-Goodenough said at least 12 customers had been left in the same boat as her.

AA spokesman Layton Beard said that while this sort of incident was rare, it could prove very costly.

“If the wrong fuel is poured into your car, you should not even start it as it will cause damage and in some cases, the damage will be permanent.

“If this does happen, don’t drive the car. Get it towed and get a mechanic or your dealership to have a look and assess the damage. They will then have the tank flushed, refill it with the correct fuel and see if there any other problems because the wrong fuel can affect other parts of the engine,” he said.

When Tabletalk visited the station at about 4.30pm on the Thursday we found the pumps had been cordoned off with cones with bins and motorists were being turned away by the petrol attendants.

Ian Pietersen, who runs an office supply company from Bothasig and regularly fills up at the Edgemead BP, was there talking to the garage’s manager, Brenda Greeff.

She declined to comment, but Mr Pietersen told Tabletalk the driver of one of his company’s delivery bakkies had called to say it had broken down in Montague Gardens shortly after he had filled up at the station at 2pm.

The bakkie had had to be towed to a mechanic.

“At the time, I was annoyed because we are in a very competitive industry, and this kind of thing can make us lose clients,” said Mr Pietersen.

Ms Lennox-Goodenough said while BP management had offered to pay for the damage to her car and alternative transport, it had still been a major inconvenience.

“One can only hope that they not only deliver on these promises, but also put stricter measures in place to prevent it from happening again. Actual compensation for causing this will also go a long way towards restoring the goodwill of those affected,” she said.

Butch Pritchard, the franchise owner of the Letchworth BP, referred Tabletalk to BP’s head office for comment.

Tabletalk has tried since Thursday last week to get a response out of BP’s head office, but despite phoning, emailing and texting two “communications officers” and one “communications manager”, the company did not provide any answers by the time this edition went to print.