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  • Writer's pictureS Potter

Generation Fuel Card

I joined the Oil Industry as a lad in 1974. Back then if you wanted road fuels you either went to a garage or installed your own storage tank.

Fuel cards had yet to be invented. Most hauliers had yards for their trucks and at least a 600 gallon storage tank, yes I did say gallon, we didn’t have litres back then either.

Everything was Imperial measurements, except money which had changed from £sd (*pounds, shillings and pence) to £p on 15th February 1971. I was still at school then and it seemed very exciting to get hold of the ‘new money’, but the ‘old folks’ complained that they were being fiddled by unscrupulous shop keepers. Of course I was a young and impatient youth then and ridiculed their complaints.

These days I still talk in pints of beer, feet and inches and miles per gallon…. Except at work where I seamlessly convert to litres etc., though kilometres is going a bit far! For fun sometimes I help at the Cricket club bar (well I did before COVID) and would add up the customer round in ‘£sd’ and advise them that their bill was, say “Eight pounds seventeen shillings and two pence”, which usually was met with dumb silence until I quickly added “Eight pounds, eighty six pence” to which a smile and money would be handed over with a look saying “what’s the silly old fool on about” or similar, but I digress.

Around 1980 rumours started reaching the market of a ‘Diesel Club’ being formed by C H Jones Ltd of Walsall and other long distance hauliers. It worked on an exchange system for long distance Hauliers on a ‘milk round’, that’s where the driver goes away for a few days collecting and delivering truck loads. Previously the driver would have had to refill his tank at a mainline garage and pay full retail prices. With the fuel club the members could fill up at each other’s premises and at the end of the month, settle up between them at bulk wholesale prices.

Move on a couple of years and they develop an automated way of doing this to improve security reduce costs and allow 24 hour access in some places. The driver was issued with a ‘key’ to switch on the pump and identify the user, hence ‘Keyfuels’ was born. Further technical innovations followed and a couple of new players in the market and the card system arrived. Now we had Keyfuels, PCS Fuelserv and UK Fuels.

It has always been the view of the refining Oil companies such as BP, Esso, Shell, Texaco, Murco and other previous ones no longer (or only just) here including Elf, Amoco, Total, Jet and many others that they should control the road fuel market. They still do with control of Petrol carefully guarded, but they have lost control of the pricing of the diesel market to the commercial players that now dominate it, including their agents, us, Fuelcard Centre Ltd and others.

The market these days is dominated by the influence of the Rotterdam Spot Market which generates the weekly fuel prices and gives a mechanism for the Oil Refiners to re-value their stocks on a daily basis thus generating a weekly value that everyone feeds off. Even the Oil Refining majors have to compete with the independent commercial re-sellers in order to compete.

There has been a recent trend by some fuel card providers to add obscure charges on, such as usage or non-usage charges. These seem a bit underhand to me and we don’t do that as we don’t feel that it’s fair or transparent.

So even though I’m now the ‘old geezer’ who looks back with nostalgia at the old days and forward to retirement, but not quite yet, I’m also the dynamic bloke who can advise you of the best fuel card solution for your business with 44 years of experience to back me up, well, that what I believe anyway!


The New Generation

His daughter and co-director here. Times have moved on with fuelcards and technology making using fuel cards much more convenient to the modern user. Fuel card suppliers are introducing new ‘apps’. For example, I love the BP Me app. Have you tried it yet? If not this is how it works:

The driver or owner of the fuel card needs a smart phone so they can download the ‘app’ and most of us have one of those these days as it’s difficult to buy anything else!

You register the app, and then advise your fuel card provider (i.e. us) you would like to use the BP Me ‘app’, they (we) will get you a registration code.

Once registered open the ‘app’ on the phone, once opened and logged in you need to add your fuelcard details. You can add a debit or credit card if desired, but to the list of cards, but they take a deposit with anything other than the fuel card. You can scan your card in or type the number. Once this is set up, you can leave the card at home.

Now comes the best part especially with COVID still about, you will not need to go into the shop to pay, unless you want a coffee or something.

1. Pull up to the pump.

2. Still in your car open the ‘app’ on your phone.

3. Select the garage you are at, and the pump number.

4. You can add vehicle details, mileage in this ‘app.

5. Once the ‘app’ is ready, it shows you that you can fill up.

6. Leave the phone in the car. Fill up with fuel.

7. Once you’ve finished, the app knows as the pump switches off. It confirms that the transaction has gone through, and off you go.

All without going into the shop or having to don a mask.

With competition and increasing popularity I expect to see most or all fuel card networks use this type of ‘app’. Ask us for more info.... and an application.


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