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The quest for self (service)
Kipp asked you if you would like to see petrol stations in the UAE become self-service. We were shocked at the results.
January 16, 2011 2:58 by Samuel Potter
There’s nothing like being in the UAE to make you lazy. A combination of cheap fuel, crazy pavements and dodgy weather combine to make sure we drive pretty much everywhere. Low taxes and (until now) cheap food make eating out relatively affordable. A big immigrant workforce keeps wages low and allows companies to make sure they have plenty of staff to tend our every whim.
And that’s never more in evidence than at the petrol station (gas station, for all you yanks). Drive up to the pump, wind down your window, and you are pretty much done. A couple of words to the attendant and your tank is full, your windscreen clean, and your money paid, all while you relax in your seat with the radio on.
But all that could be about to become a thing of the past. According to the National, moves may be afoot once again to make UAE petrol stations self-service. A new study says that the last pilot scheme to make people pump their own fuel in the country was abandoned too soon. Dr Nnamdi Madichie, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Sharjah, believes better marketing and more research could have made ENOC’s three month experiment at 10 stations a success. He interviewed people during the experiment.
“There were mixed feelings among people,” he said. “Some looked at it as impossible on the grounds that it clashed with the local culture. Others blamed it on the heat. However, it wasn’t an outright failure. It was stopped before people could get used to it.”
According to the paper, feedback gathered by ENOC suggested just 30 percent of people supported the switch, with 65 percent of people against it.
“The people who were happy were mostly western Europeans, for whom it was a normal practice,” said Khalid Hadi, the brand and marketing manager for ENOC. “On the other hand, the local community didn’t like it because it was a new concept for them. We are living in a country where the customers are really spoilt.”
Kipp was curious if those stats applied to our readers, so we asked you: Do you want to see petrol stations in the UAE become self-service? We were surprised at the results, with over 50 percent (52.5, in fact) saying that they would like UAE gas stations to become self-service. That compares with 37.5 percent who want things to stay the same. Three percent of voters bothered to click to tell us they don’t care (thanks for that, guys), while 7 percent of readers don’t know whether they want to see petrol stations in the UAE become self-service.
Maybe it’s that lots of western expats read Kipp, but we guess living in the UAE does not make you as lazy as we thought; more than half of people would support a switch.
For what it’s worth, Kipp is not one. But it’s not because we are lazy; it’s because we think the move would cause complete chaos at the pumps. Imagine hundreds of thousands of people who have never filled their own tanks before having to adjust to self-service. It doesn’t bear thinking about.