An Open Letter To ARCO From An Honest Customer

To Whom It May Concern,

Late last night (although technically it was early this morning, since it was just after midnight) I stopped at one of your gas stations for the first and last time.  This particular gas station was located at 27682 Crown Valley Parkway, Mission Viejo, CA  92692.  Not being familiar with your cash/debit card only operation, I inserted my card (which happens to be a MasterCard branded debit card that I most often use as a credit card to avoid having to enter my PIN) at the pump.  I promptly removed my card, lifted the nozzle, and selected my grade of fuel.  This is a sequence of events, as you might imagine, that I have performed hundreds (if not thousands) of times in my life.  Shame on me for not carefully reading the instructions printed on the pump, but it has been my experience that the universal indication as to whether my card has been accepted is that gas flows from the nozzle, which in this case it did.  To my great surprise, however, the pump stopped working when it reached $6.27.  I returned the nozzle to the pump and went inside, where your employee Alejandro was working at the counter.  The conversation went something like this:

Debbie:  Excuse me sir, I’m at pump number 1.  It stopped working at $6.27.  Could you tell me what’s wrong?

Alejandro:  That’s because you took someone else’s money.  You stole.  You are a dishonest person.

D:  What?  That’s my car.  Pump number 1.  I put my card in, pulled it out, and gas started coming out.  You can check the video.

A:  We are cash only.  You have to prepay.  You are not an honest person.  Someone else paid for that gas.

D:  I’m the only person at pump number 1.  I don’t understand what you’re saying.

A:  That was not your money.  You took that money.

At this point I started to realize that either Alejandro had mistakenly credited another customer’s money to pump number one or another customer had given Alejandro the wrong pump number.  Either way, it was an honest mistake all around and the other customer would certainly be coming inside soon to find out about his or her $6.27.  Sure enough, he appeared within a minute and I explained to him what had happened.  He certainly didn’t think I was a thief or a dishonest person, and in fact he apologized to me for the mix-up.  I gave him $6.27 and he was soon on his way to putting gas in his own car, which was at pump 11 (a mistake which I’m sure many of us have made, especially on long road trips late at night).

There were many ways Alejandro could have handled this situation.  He could have suggested I pay the other customer.  He could have recommended I use my debit card at the other customer’s pump to allow him to get $6.27 of gas.  He could have offered to help me put a credit on the other customer’s pump to even things out.  He did none of those things.

If I were a dishonest person intent on stealing $6.27 of gas, I certainly would not have come inside asking why the pump stopped.  I would have gotten back in my car as quietly as possible and driven gleefully into the night, leaving Alejandro to explain to the irate customer at pump number 11 what happened to his gas.



One thought on “An Open Letter To ARCO From An Honest Customer

  1. Debbie, this information will be forwarded to the local ARCO field representatives. Please e-mail your contact information to so that we can follow up with you personally.

    Thanks, ARCO Marketing

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