Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Or: How £30.00 of diesel fuel cost me £262.40.

As many of you know, I drive a white van for Animal Krackers, the local animal rescue charity, mainly running around after cats but also other sundry jobs like taking stuff to the council tip. I probably do most (say 60%, it's difficult to estimate) of the driving and inevitably this means filling up with diesel for which I get reimbursed by the treasurer.

This morning I went to fill up the van, something I'd meant to do yesterday as it was getting seriously low but forgot. So, just before nine in the morning, I went along the road to the Spar garage, put £35.00 in (half a tank), went to pay and said automatically, "£35.00 diesel, VAT receipt, please." 

"You mean unleaded," came the reply. 

"No, I... Ah, shit!"

I had looked at the first pump which said diesel something (but translated as 'more expensive than regular') and then at the next pump which said 'regular'. I didn't notice that it said 'regular unleaded'.

Two guys (one of them staff) kindly pushed my van into a spare parking bay and I phoned the AA (Automobile Association) as I'm a member courtesy of going with Saga Insurance. Draining and cleaning the tank isn't, however, included in the services and would cost £220.00. When I mentioned casually that the van was owned by Animal Krackers registered charity (explaining what that was), they knocked £25.00 off which was unexpected. The wait would be 60-90 minutes and would take about an hour to do.

Expecting a short trip, I didn't have a book with me and my Ipod, which I'd recently updated with several CDs I'd bought, sat snugly on my computer desk. Plus the radio/cassette in the van didn't work because I kept forgetting to get the key-code from the treasurer who has all the documents. I went back into Spar (which is also a mini supermarket), bought a copy of The Independent and a black coffee, sat back in the cab and began to wait.

I did, naturally, phone she who warms the cockles of my heart and makes my life worth living and received the expected and well-deserved vilification of my stupidity, and also my friend Denise to explain why I was sitting having a cup of coffee in the van and not with her and another couple of ex-work colleagues in Starbucks in the city centre as I usually do on a Wednesday morning.

So I sat and read the Independent slowly (lots about a government committee vilifying Rupert Murdoch, except for the Tory members), sipped my coffee slowly while trying not to think of my bladder (I confess I ended up emptying it behind the building where I could only be seen if someone was actively looking), and waited. And waited. Until the 90 plus minutes were up whereupon the AA man arrived and did the job in a further 30 minutes. He also helpfully pointed out that I had a flat tire which I managed to inflate before I left. He was cheerful and helpful. I introduced myself by saying, "Hi, I'm the idiot who can't tell the difference between and diesel and an unleaded pump". He laughed and told me I was his fourth call out for the same reason that morning and the van was specifically designed with this problem in mind.

He left, I filled up with diesel, and went home.

£35.00 unleaded petrol
£195.00 drain, clean, and add some diesel
£30.00 diesel
£1.20 coffee
£1.20 newspaper
Total: £262.40 of which I only expect  £30.00 back. Hell, it was my stupid fault in the first place and can't expect the charity to pay for that.

I suppose I should finish this with something pithy or witty but all I can think of is this advice:
Don't put unleaded petrol into a van that runs on diesel.

No comments: