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Taking The Long Way To A Solution

, , , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Pr2nnu | May 3, 2022

I used to work as an attendant for the largest gas station company in my country. At the time, I’d been working there for about two and a half years. The job itself was actually really enjoyable and I loved my time there. Currently, I am working at the same company as a recruiter, and whenever I am offered shifts as an attendant, I always accept them.

I was finishing up one of my last shifts as an attendant, cleaning the oven, doing the dishes, mopping the floor, etc., when a Russian-speaking man came in and wanted to fill up his truck. I tried my best to tell him, in my broken Russian, that we are a fill-first-pay-after-type of gas station. And with the help of a regular customer, we managed to get the point across.

He then went and filled up his truck, the total was about 350L (approximately 92,5 gallons). It was an hour until the end of my shift when he came in to pay. After he entered the PIN for his debit card, the terminal gave an error. After two more unsuccessful tries, I decided to contact our in-house IT team.

It turned out that his bank did not have a contract with our service provider; hence, he couldn’t pay with his card. All that time, the regular stayed there and helped me as a translator.

By that point, I was all out of ideas. I had the regular tell him to wait for a bit until I could get a hold of my station manager. Unfortunately, she didn’t answer the phone, so I decided to call the regional manager.

Regional Manager: “Call the Head of External Partnerships; he has more experience in dealing with foreign banks.”

Unfortunately, that was a dead end because he hadn’t even heard of the customer’s bank. So, off I went, calling the regional manager once again.

Meanwhile, the truck driver had called the owner of his company and told him about the whole ordeal. The owner requested to speak to me. Thankfully, he spoke a bit of English.

Company Owner: “Is there a way for you to bill us and have the charge paid via a bank transfer?”

That lit a bulb in my head. We have a debt certificate form we can fill out, which basically says that the customer agrees to the charge and agrees to pay it by a certain date.

As I was finishing up filling the forms, my station manager called me back, and after I explained the whole story, she told me to call the head of security at our company. He, on the other hand, said:

Head Of Security: “The debt certificate is a bad idea since the company and the driver are from Poland; if they decide to not pay, it would be too expensive to seek legal action. Why didn’t you just tell him to use a nearby ATM to retrieve cash from his card?”

I literally facepalmed in front of the customer. How had I missed the simplest solution to the problem at hand?

I had the regular tell the truck driver to follow me, and I drove him to the ATM. The driver successfully retrieved cash. While driving back, we chatted a bit — as much as I could, at least. He boasted to me how his boss had wired him so much money for the trip that he could buy three cars just like mine with it. He also told me that the first thing he’d do when he got back to Poland was go to his bank and make them sign a deal with our company’s provider.

When we made it back, the regular left, the truck driver paid for his fuel, and all was well.

I gave both the regular customer and the truck driver a free coffee and a pastry of their choice for the inconvenience. In the end, I had spent almost three hours and made a dozen or so phone calls to help the customer. Thankfully, the truck driver was understanding the whole time and didn’t make a fuss about the whole ordeal.

But I learned a lesson: always try the easiest solutions first.

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