Can a petrol station keep your mobile if you don't pay?

Discussion in 'Askaboutlaw' started by bobjim, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. bobjim

    bobjim Frequent Poster

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    Hey all,
    Hope this is the right forum (mods, please move if not).

    I saw a sign in my local petrol station the other day along the lines of:

    "It is company policy to keep a working mobile phone in the case where a customer cannot pay." There was something else about it being an offence but I will check the exact wording later.

    Obviously, this is for cases where someone gets petrol and doesn't have money on them to pay and fair enough, I can understand they would like some security before letting someone leave without paying.

    However, from a purely legal basis, is this enforceable? If I get petrol then realise I have no money, but give my name, address and phone number then surely they cannot insist on me handing over anything as security??


    Just curious!

    Thanks,
    bobjim
     
  2. dereko1969

    dereko1969 Frequent Poster

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    No but they can insist on calling the Garda as you have stolen the petrol.
     
  3. Padraigb

    Padraigb Frequent Poster

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    Filling stations give credit only to some customers, and generally by prior arrangement. What you are suggesting is that you should be enabled to compel them to supply you on credit.

    Holding on to your phone as security is a kinder measure than holding your car as security.
     
  4. bobjim

    bobjim Frequent Poster

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    Just to be clear, I'm not advocating stealing petrol or getting it on credit!

    I'm just wondering what the situation is where there is no intent to defraud, simply a mistake.

    If I give my name, even show my driver's license or some ID, and say I'll be back in 20 mins with the money - can the garage try to keep my car, or phone or even restrain me if I try to leave??

    I know they could call the Guards, but what would the Guards do?

    Extreme scenarios but, like I said, I'm curious!
     
  5. RonanC

    RonanC Frequent Poster

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    The garage cannot legally keep your car, your phone or restrain you. They can call the Gardai though if you refuse to pay, which you seem to be doing. The garage has said we will hold onto your phone as payment until you come back with cash. If you do not return with cash, we will accept the mobile phone as payment. Seems like a fair deal to me.
     
  6. flossie

    flossie Frequent Poster

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    I think that if you don't have funds to pay, the garage in question will take all details (you fill out a form) and give you 24 hours to return with payment (won't accept card details over the phone) and failing that, then call the Gardai. I certainly wouldn't leave my phone with them.....although i guess you could remove sim card and battery and take them back with you? ANyways, you could always cancel the phone by registering it lost/stolen with the IMEI number....
     
  7. jack2009

    jack2009 Frequent Poster

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    Surely that garage can do what every the feel is necessary to ensure that you return and make prompt payment, I would not settle for taking details off a customer as there is no guarantee that the details given are accurate.

    Furthermore, by taking say the mobile phone they are making sure that they dont have to waste money or resources in chasing anybody who refuses to return with payment within the 24 hours.

    I think to be asked to leave your mobile is a fair trade, its better than having the Gardai called!
     
  8. LS400

    LS400 Frequent Poster

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    Thats a good question. Its not as though you go out and on purpose dont pay. I have grabed my wallet and gone and filled up, opened wallet to pay and found that €50/60 was spent on something else, which I just remembered as I opened it. Most retailers would make a judgment call. I would give over as much info as they want and ring in c/c details. They would have car reg, licence details and a note to admit mistake. It happens every day with the best of intensions.
     
  9. W200

    W200 Frequent Poster

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    I know its slightly off topic but I recently drove into a filling station , parked at pump , put filler nozzle into car tank and suddenly realised that i had left my wallet at home. I DID NOT put any petrol in the car. Decided to go into shop to explain what had happened in case they thought I was "doing a runner". The attendant was really helpful saying that if I needed petrol to get home I could have some and come back later. I was very impressed with the attitude in what was a very large busy filling station.Not a word about confiscating cars phones etc
     
  10. Janet

    Janet Frequent Poster

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    I worked in my dad's garage for many years and you may have the best of intentions but there's a fair chance they've had to deal with many, many others who really don't. People can completely take the proverbial sometimes. We only gave credit to three or four very large customers (and even then, some of them paid in advance). And it was the kind of place where we had a lot of regulars and knew a lot of our customers - didn't matter how well you knew them though, if they took petrol and had forgotten money they either had to leave the car there and walk home to get money (for a really, really good customer we would give them 20p to use the payphone to ring home and get someone to bring them money) or leave something else valuable as a deposit. We still ended up with a small box full of things like watches that people just never came back to collect. The thinking behind the mobile phone is probably that although it might not have a huge monetary value, it's something you are likely to want to get back fairly quickly. And if the sign is up where you can easily see it, perhaps it also serves as a reminder to make sure you have money or a card before you put any petrol in the car.

    But don't take it personally, it's not about you, it's about the chancers they may already have been stung by.
     
  11. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    No they can't. They are not entitled to insist you leave any personal property behind as security. Just leave your details and go get cash, and let them know when you'll return.

    The worst the garage can then do at that point is call the Gardai. If the garage tell them the full story, they'll instruct the garage to make a complaint if you do not return with payment by the specified time.

    If the garage just report it as a theft to the Gardai and fail to tell them that you gave them your details and have gone to get payment, then chances are you'll have paid by the time they catch up with you. I'd imagine the Gardai will take a dim view of their time being waster in this fashion.
    Leo
     
  12. Padraigb

    Padraigb Frequent Poster

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    So, Leo, you are saying that I can force a filling station to give me credit? All I have to do is fill up, leave my card and promise to come back next Friday?

    How about the filling station taking the position that you can not take the petrol away until you have paid for it?
     
  13. Gulliver

    Gulliver Frequent Poster

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    Leo
    Suppose that in a supermarket you filled up, and had no cash, would you expect that the supermarket should let you go with the goods to get cash, and let them know when you'll return. I don't think you'd get very far with that.

    In the garage situation, you are expecting to drive out without paying for the goods you are carrying. In justice, the garage should have every right to insist that you do not leave the premises with goods which have not been paid for. It is reasonable that if they do allow this, they should have some form of assurance to guarantee that you will return.
     
  14. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    Legally, you are committing theft if you leave the premises without paying for fuel. But the petrol station have no legal right to impound your property in lieu of this debt. They would be entitled to recover the fuel from your tank, however, given the effort required for the sums involved, are very unlikely to do so.

    In order to legally seize property, the garage would need to make an application in court, then it's the Sheriff's Office who would carry out any seizure of goods, giving you appropriate notice in advance.
     
  15. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    The supermarket analogy does not fit here at all.

    The OP was asking about the legal basis for a garage insisting on a phone being left behind. My answer addresses this based on current legislation, what you or I feel is reasonable or otherwise is irrelevant.
     
  16. A99

    A99 Frequent Poster

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    "It is company policy to keep a working mobile phone in the case where a customer cannot pay."

    If I saw this sign in my petrol station I would assume that they "keep a working mobile phone" in the event of customer not paying for the fuel. Maybe this means they can phone the guards with out leaving the cash desk (in the event of only staff member on duty).

    I cant understand how people think this means you have to hand over your mobile as security if you dont pay. What happens if you dont have a mobile phone !! or worse you have one but tell the staff member you dont have a mobile phone !!

    And yes it did happen to me many years ago, one evening while in a complete world of my own I filled up at the tank, hopped into the car & drove off. It was n't my local garage so it was only next day when I noticed I had extra cash in my pocket that it occurred to me what had happened. That evening I went back to the garage explained what had happened, the assistant laughed & told me it happens very regularly. He said that they had notified the guards as a policy, they would now call the guards to explain, gave me a receipt & told to me to keep it safe incase I get a call from the guards in a few months time.

    I never heard anything further & now I always remember to pay !!
     
  17. Bronte

    Bronte Frequent Poster

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    Actually the supermarket analogy is quite apt. I've forgotten my purse on occasion and it was quite simple leave the trolley behind and go get the money.

    The garage was doing the OP a service, why would anyone have any problem with the garage asking for a mobile phone in lieu of payment. Immiently sensible decision of the garage. OP should be grateful to the garage, I would be. OP if he didn't want to leave his mobile should have walked home and got the money. Because leaving with the car with unpaid petrol is an offence the garage asking for the phone to allow the person to leave is not an offence, it is an agreement between the garage and the client.
     
  18. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    For the supermarket analogy to fit, you would have to have eaten the food. The fact that you can simply leave the goods behind without fuss means it's quite a different situation from putting petrol in a car.

    Again, the OP asked if the garage could legally enforce someone to leave a phone behind, and the answer is no, they can not. Nowhere did they ask if it was OK for them to ask, or about making an agreement.
     
  19. username123

    username123 Frequent Poster

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    Does it not sound crazy to even think to leave a phone, does it need to be turned on? What if the phone is worth €500 and you only bought €10 petrol?

    Not a hope i'd be leaving my phone in a petrol station, what it goes missing then, youre in a world of legal grey-area then i'd say.
     
  20. Padraigb

    Padraigb Frequent Poster

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    All you need do is make sure that you have the means to pay when you put fuel in your car.