Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fast Changing Gas Attendent

My husband asked me to stop and get gas tonight. I had an appointment so I stopped on my way home. Most gas stations have attendants that pump the gas for you. It's a security measure so it requires prepay and no drive off.

On my way out of the house my husband hands me what I thought was five L100 bills. L100 = about US $5 and the capital letter L = lempira, the Honduran currency. He said "put gas in the car". I didn't count it at the time, but we had discussed taking L500 previously. Once at the gas station I hand the (5) bills to the attendant and he walks away. He punches some buttons on the gas pump or does something I couldn't see and then turns back to me and spreads the bills out in his hands and says (in Spanish) "only four hundred". I say, "no, five hundred". As he stood there holding out the four wrinkly bills for me to see as if to say, "no lady, see, you only gave L400". I started second guessing myself and wondering if I miscounted & misplaced a L100 bill or maybe my husband only gave me L400 not L500 as I thought. I wasn't sure and I didn't know how to argue the point.

There I was just screaming to be taken advantage of. I had just experienced recently that the customer is not someone thought highly of or respected. Who was going to believe me? I felt stuck. So yes, this white girl was taken advantage of, fast changed and lost a quick $5 bucks. You might think $5 dollars is not a lot to lose, but we live on Honduran wages, not US wages. Many people live on that much a day or less. It's hard to compare, but if I lose L100 here it is like losing US $20 dollars in the states.

Once I got home and told my husband, of course he said I should have called him, but in my confused mind it didn't occur to me. He confirmed that he did give me L500 and after a thorough search of my purse, my husband being so protective, wanted us to drive back to the gas station and try and set some things straight, but it was getting late and it was just not worth the time, gas, hassle and headache. I told my husband that we should just leave it up to God if he wants to teach that guy a lesson. I know I learned one. Be very, very careful and count out your money to the gas pump attendants and make sure you both agree what amount is being exchanged. Video tape it if possible.

Would you go back to the gas station and confront him?


Megita said...

Oh dear, I would have thought the same way as you. I wouldn't want the headache either.

Would I go back? If I was in the U.S., probably I would. In Honduras I don't think I would go back (I would be scared to get into some kind of violent confrontation) but then again money IS money.

Joanna said...

That's a tough one. Is the work to try and get it back worth the

Would I go back? The gas station up the road, probably. If it was a different gas station that I don't normaly go to, probably not. I would if I realized the error right away, but by the next day I probably would have let it go.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, you can't go back the next day and expect to correct the situation with much success.

Next time (hopefully there isn't), maybe try and do what my wife of Italian heritage has done from time to time in sorta similar situations... belittle the sh_t outa the guy who just ripped you off. Better to vent that anger at the one who caused it rather than someone else. You'll feel better, I'm sure. :)


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it's pretty tough *anywhere* to go back and prove theft afterwards.

If it happens again (hopefully not), try my wife's technique of belittling the sh_t out of the person for ripping you off.

It's good to get that out of your system to protect your innocent! :-)


411 from Down Under said...

What a jerk! Hopefully he'll get his one day...

I wouldn't want you to go back to the station (i.e. could turn into a big fight, etc).

Hard lesson learned and next time put on a HUGE show to count out the money to the attendant, loudly and dramatically placing each bill in his palm.

Aaron Ortiz said...

Definitely go back, but take your husband. Have your husband talk calmly and explain what happened.

If you don't, the guy will start a habit of cheating you. After talking to him I would avoid that station in the future. (an angry or resentful attendant would try even harder to cheat you as a way of revenge)

Theresa said...

I would have gone back and totally reamed him or talked to his boss. One day my husband came home from the mini-super and told me, I think the cashier shorted me 10 pesos (about 95c usd at the time), I went back and said to her, you didn't give my husband all his change. She didn't blink, but reached into the drawer and gave us a 10 pesos coin (this was without my saying how much!). Then I went and complained to the manager, I told him, that we lived in the neighborhood, and wanted to shop in his store, and so would the rest of the gringos moving in, but not if I told them that the cashiers weren't honest. I think they were ripping off more than just Husband, because we have new cashiers now, who are friendly and honest.

Ale said...

Gas stations are usually a world of their own in Honduras... Once my aunt told the attendant to put L.100 and apparently he thought that since my mom and my aunt were chatting they wouldn't notice that all he did was pretend to put the L.100 because the customer before them had put exactly that... but when my aunt turned the engine on, noticed that the gas indicator didn't move one bit, and told him that.... at first he denied it, but when they were about to call the manager, he told them he was going to put another hundred lempiras even when it wasn't his fault (yeah , right!)

Honduras Sprout said...

We didn't go back. But I think if anything ever happens like that again, I will definitely try the shame tactic and I think I will take it to the manager like Theresa. You go girl!

I learned my lesson.