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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January 2005, 15:54 GMT
Disabled drivers fear fuel chaos
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News website disability affairs reporter

Disabled motorists who are unable to pay for their petrol at forecourt shops risk being left without fuel, according to the Disabled Drivers' Association (DDA).

Photo of man filling car with fuel
The DDA is concerned that staff aren't getting the message
Until now, anyone requiring assistance to use filling stations has been able to give their credit or debit card to a member of staff who then returns with a slip for the customer to sign.

But the DDA says many drivers have been told that they are unable to pay using a bank card now that the responsibility for fraudulent transactions has shifted to the retailer with the introduction of the new chip and pin system.

Chip and pin means that customers enter a four digit code using a keypad instead of validating their purchase using a signature.

Cordless keypads are available, but they are considered unsafe for use on a filling station forecourt.

Although the DDA agreed with petrol retailers that disabled drivers would be able to continue to sign for purchases until another solution is found, it is concerned that staff have not been made aware of this.

"It's clear that Chip and Pin have failed to make sure that staff working in petrol stations know how to deal with this problem," said DDA executive director Douglas Campbell.

"It's no good telling the head office of BP or Sainsbury's; it has to be explained to everyone who may assist a disabled driver to fill up."

The DDA says the issue needs to be resolved quickly before disabled people are left without fuel for their cars.

Photo of Douglas Campbell
Douglas Campbell says disabled motorists risk being left without fuel
Chip and Pin - the company managing the changeover to the new technology - agrees that they have been "some instances where petrol retail staff have given incorrect advice to disabled drivers".

"We can reassure the Disabled Drivers' Association that petrol stations will continue to accept a signature as the verification method for disabled drivers who are unable to leave their cars," a Chip and Pin spokesperson said.

The company said that it is continuing to explore longer term solutions to the problem with the petrol industry.

It says that making sure that the 85,000 people selling petrol in the UK all get the message is "a significant job".

Supermarket chain Sainsbury's - which has 240 filling stations - has told the BBC News website that it would continue to accept signatures from disabled drivers.

"We are working hard to ensure that all our petrol forecourt staff are aware that disabled card holders will continue to sign for their petrol," said a company spokesperson.

And Shell, which has about a thousand outlets in the UK, says customers will be able to pay for their fuel as they always have done until a process is developed that protects retailers against fraud and does not discriminate against disabled people.

Chip and Pin says customers who experience difficulties should complete a form on its website so that action to remedy the situation can be taken.


SEE ALSO:
Chip and pin delays
30 Dec 04 |  Moneybox


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