Posted by: chlost | May 13, 2010

Full service?

As I was starting my drive home yesterday, I realized that I needed to get gas for my car.  It was on the last of the fumes left from the most recent full tank of gas.  I didn’t have enough leeway to be choosy on which station to use, so I just pulled into the closest one.  As I pulled in, a man standing near another car waved hello to me-I assumed he knew me.

However, as I exited my car and was sliding the credit card into the slot on the pump, this same man came up to me.  I noticed that he was wearing the blue shirt and pants of a gas station employee.  He told me that they provided full service-without extra charge. He even washed the front windshield.

At least I am old enough to know what full service means. some younger drivers may not know this.  There was a time when full service at a filling station was a given.  We would have been shocked not to have  a station employee come to the car and offer to fill the tank.  The windshield was automatically washed, and there would be an offer to check the oil, and the air in the tires.    Back then, the law didn’t allow us to pump our own gas, I guess that the general public could not be trusted to handle gasoline coming out of a pump. 

Suddenly, in the 70’s, we became sophisticated enough to be able to handle it all on our own.  The selling point was that we would pay less for gas if there wasn’t a person who had to provide the extra service.  We could do it ourselves, the station wouldn’t have to pay for an employee to provide that service, and we would reap the benefit by lower=priced gas.  Yup, that worked.  Just as predicted!

For all of the youngsters out there, the grocery business went the same way.  If it was not necessary to provide an employee to bag your groceries and carry them to your car, the prices would be cheaper.  We bought that, too.

AFter my experience in receiving full service yesterday (and I checked-the price was the same as those at other stations in town), I realized how much I have missed it. It felt so nice to be treated nicely, as if my business was valued, as if they cared whether I returned as a customer. Just for the record, I will go back.

Could it be that with a recession, and a need for wooing customers, the retailers may go back to treating their customers well?  Might this be a step forward-or backward-toward a true “service economy”?

I’m ready.



  1. I can’t say I mind pumping my own gas, but I hate that we are now required to put our own groceries on the little conveyer belt and then load the filled bags into the carts themselves. And I also hate having to wander around the store to find someone, anyone, to tell me where an item is only to have them shrug at me.

    • Have you counted how many times you handle your groceries? Once to put it in the basket, once to take it out and put on the belt, once to put it into your carrier bags, once to take it to your car, once to load it into your car, once to unload it from the car, once to take it from the bag to the cupboard/refrigerator, finally from the cupboard/refrigerator to fix/eat it. Crazy! Eight! Do you feel like you doing all of this and paying less? Not me.

  2. Wow, a full service gas station? I’ve never seen one where I live now, but I remember them years ago – they had the lanes for full and self service.
    I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but a few of our grocery store chains have stepped further back from service and have self-scan lanes so you do everything on your own while a checker monitors all of the lanes.

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