For illustrative purposes only Image Credit: GN Archives

Dubai: Petrol stations across Dubai will call police from July to handle customers who fail to pay after refuelling their cars, a leading oil company has told XPRESS.

They will no longer accept identity cards from such customers as ‘guarantee’ and wait for them to pay later, as is the practice now.

“It was becoming a matter of habit for many motorists. They would take their own sweet time in settling the dues and in some cases, we were not able to recover the money at all,” said Majid Sabt, the retail operations manager of Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) and Emirates Petroleum Products Company (Eppco) that run 85 stations across Dubai.

In a country where petrol is cheaper than water in most places, shockingly many motorists continue to flee after refuelling without paying.

That number is more than 150 every year for ENOC and EPPCO stations in Dubai alone.

13 cases a month

“On an average we encounter 13 cases per month across networks where the customers fail to pay and we are forced to follow up with the police,” he says.

Most of the defaulters who realise they haven’t got the cash or have forgotten their wallet at home, as of this month, still have the option of paying later by filling up a form and handing over their identity card. “Most customers usually come back and settle the amount within 48 hours as stated in their signed declaration, but a handful play truant.

“We give them sufficient time before moving those cases to the head office who eventually hand it to the police,” explained a supervisor at an Eppco petrol station in Al Ghusais.

However, that practice is now being done away with completely. “From next month, we will follow a new process where the non payment customer declaration form will be eliminated. Sites [fuel stations] will call Dubai Police and register a case against a motorist immediately if he doesn’t pay at the spot,” says Sabt.

“It’s difficult to run away because all number plates are recorded on our cameras,” said Deepak, 24 a petrol pump attendant.

He claimed two drivers have given him the slip so far.

“I did not report it to the management because of the paperwork involved and instead chose to pay the amount from my own pocket both times — Dh20 in the first instance and Dh100 the second time,” said the Nepalese man on a Dh1,200 per month salary.

“Now it’s simple. We will just call the police.”