By Faizur
Fuel prices have constantly been skyrocketing for the past several months, despite the ongoing global pandemic conditions. Be it any situation, we are generally inclined towards saving a buck or two — but that depends on what measures a person takes to save money.

Be it individuals or businesses, extra income always feels like a cherry on the top. But, in February, the Cabinet Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel in the Government of India, Dharmendra Debendra Pradhan, revealed a few shocking details about petrol pump frauds.

He said that several petrol pumps across the country were conning customers by utilizing various methods to pile up money. Around 785 cases of short-fuelling were reported in Delhi alone. Another surprising fact is that Delhi ranks third in the petrol pump frauds, falling in line behind Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

With each passing day, the number of cases continues to rise along with the fuel prices. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the rising fuel prices, but we can avoid getting scammed by such petrol pumps.

Imagine a situation — you refuel your vehicle every day at a certain petrol station near your house. One fine day, you get to know that the petrol pump has been conning customers for over a year; just like you, there have been several customers who have been conned by petrol pumps they trusted.

Maybe you made a friend or two at the petrol station. However, it would be best to understand that the “friendly” staff spare no one to make extra money. To them, you are just another goat from the herd they’ve decided to sacrifice.

Always beware of your surroundings as the petrol station you frequent might have been conning you for the past few months, or maybe years. Though technology advances, petrol pump people find ways to bypass such safety measures and still conning customers for money.

Most fuel pumps in India have been upgraded by integrating novel technologies like auto cut-off mechanisms, various payment methods, and digital meters. However, certain staff at petrol pumps work in unison, making it difficult to detect theft.

Here are a few well-known methods using which petrol pump staff end up swindling money from customers:

Distraction has always proved to be effective, no matter the situation. Distracting the person when it’s least expected and taking advantage of it. This is one of the oldest, most popular, and most powerful tricks in their arsenal. This trick involves two or more staff from the petrol station.

During your turn, the attendant asks you about the quantity of fuel you require. Soon, the person will reset the meter to zero. Once the fuel has started discharging, the same attendant or another will engage you in a conversation — it can be anything from mileage to fuel additives and mode of payment to a baseless conversation.

Their main motive is to distract your concentration from the meter reading. The very moment they realize you’re distracted, the first attendant either starts dispensing fuel, stops the fuel discharge, or resets the meter.

For example — you ask for fuel worth INR 250, the attendant resets the meter and starts filling your tank. Meanwhile, another attendant tries to distract you. Once you’ve been distracted, the first attendant will stop at INR 100 and inform you that your vehicle has been refueled.

After informing the attendant that you asked for fuel worth INR 250, he will claim that he heard INR 100 and will act like resetting the meter to zero; the other attendant will again engage you in a conversation. Finally, the meter continues from INR 100 and will stop at INR 150; the attendant will claim that he has added another INR 150 worth of fuel to your tank.

End of the day, you end up paying INR 250 for fuel worth a mere INR 150. By distracting you, the attendants have successfully conned you of INR 100.


Be alert whenever you visit a petrol station — always ensure zero and avoid conversations even if anyone tries to lure you into one. If you sense something fishy, you can always ask for a read-out slip (this slip shows the amount of fuel dispensed along with a few more details related to the density and type).

Long dispenser pipes
Another method petrol pumps con you is by using unnecessarily long fuel dispensing nozzles. On using longer fuel dispensing pipes, a certain amount of fuel is left over in the pipe, and after each discharge, the leftover fuel flows back inside the tank.

For instance, let’s consider that about 50 ml of fuel is leftover in the dispensing pipe after you refuel a liter of fuel. The meter reading shows 1 liter but, you received only 950 ml, and the rest 50 ml goes back into the tank.


This method of conning is not easy to find out. If you feel something is wrong or notice an unusually long dispenser pipe — raise the alarm and demand a quantity test. According to rules and regulations, each petrol pump is supposed to have a 5-liter jar from the Weights and Measures Department.

You can demand this jar and even fill it up yourself. So always be aware of your surroundings and do not hesitate to raise the alarm when you notice something unusual.

Fuel adulteration is one of the easiest and effective tricks in their arsenal. But, unfortunately, this is a method almost used by all of the petrol pumps that work to con customers.

In the case of petrol, the fuel station dealers add naphtha to adulterate it. Naphtha is a byproduct of petroleum and is as dense as petrol and does not leave any kind of residues; it is also pretty cheap compared to petrol.


Adulteration cannot be figured out easily. You might realize something is wrong when you start noticing issues like poor mileage or engine malfunctions. However, the initial doubt only goes towards you, blaming you for your driving skills.

You should also know that fuel quality is also a reason for such issues. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 demands that all petrol stations stock up on filter papers for quality tests. So you can demand filter paper and conduct a quality test to check whether the fuel is adulterated or not.

All you need to do is put a few drops of fuel on the filter paper. Then, notice if it evaporates without leaving residue or not. Pure fuel evaporates without leaving a residue; however, contaminated fuel leaves behind stains while evaporating.

Manually intervening in the flow of fuel
You usually notice attendants at petrol pumps holding the fuel trigger tightly while refueling your vehicle. When questioned, they would reason that the fuel gun’s automatic cut-off doesn’t work anymore — or that there is a crowd and they want to refill faster.

This happens when attendants keep on pressing the fuel trigger tightly — the flow of fuel gets interrupted. This creates air-locks in the machine, and some quantity of fuel gets held back during this process.

Experts warn that about 200 ml of fuel is held back for every 10 liters dispensed using this trick. Petrol pumps save several liters of fuel every day using this trick.


Whenever you notice the petrol station attendant squeezing the fuel trigger tightly while refueling your vehicle, you can immediately ask them to release their grip and lock the pump handle. You also can raise a complaint if the attendant fails to comply with your request.

In any event, you can also demand a quantity test using a 5-liter measuring jar provided by the Weights and Measures Department.

Manipulating the dispenser with electronic chips
Most petrol pumps work to con customers and fill their pockets by installing an electronic chip to the meter. When you request fuel in common denominations like INR 100, 500, or 1000, the dispenser automatically dispenses a lesser quantity stopping at your requested amount.

These chips automatically dispense fuel lower than the reading that’s displayed on the screen. There have been several sting operations that have exposed petrol pumps using such electronic chips to con customers.


Always keep a note of the fuel price for the specific day you decide to refuel your vehicle. This con method is hard to figure out as the attendants don’t have to do anything. The electronic chip would do all the required work.

You might be able to figure out that you’ve been conned, in the long run, or when you receive a different quantity of fuel on refueling from another petrol station. Whenever you notice such irregularities or unusual activities, do not hesitate to raise the alarm and report the matter to the police.

Blocking your view
This is the easiest trick in their arsenal. All the attendant needs to do is block your view from the meter. When you refuel your car, an attendant randomly blocks your view on the pretext of refueling your vehicle.

Trusting that you’ll be provided with what you pay for at petrol stations is a common mistake everyone makes.

There have been instances where you request fuel worth INR 1000, but the attendant refuels your vehicle to about INR 600 while blocking your view and demands the full INR 1000 from you if you fail to notice it.


Always get out of your vehicle, lock it and check the reading keenly whenever you refuel your vehicle. Being careful and aware of your surroundings is the only way to evade such petty cunning tricks.

These are the six ways petrol stations might trick you with. The best option is to order fuel online from the doorstep fuel delivery services that guarantee quality fuel right at your doorstep. The startup claims that they deliver fuel at the same price as that of your nearest petrol station.