A win for equality as Tesco and Shell agree to improve help for disabled drivers at the pump

I can confirm that both Shell and Tesco have confirmed that they are going to work to improve the assistance available to disabled drivers at their petrol stations. A major improvement planned is to ensure that all their filling stations are signed up to the FuelService Scheme

After hearing back from Shell Service Stations UK and Tesco they have confirmed that they are going to actively improve their disability assistance in line with the Equality Act 2010.

As I previously wrote, the level and quality of assistance available to disabled drivers varies from place to place.

FuelService Scheme

FuelService App
fuelService helps disabled drivers find and get assistance refueling their cars.

A major win is that both have pledged to ensure that their filling station networks use the fuelService scheme.

fuelService is a free app that can be downloaded on any smartphone. It enables drivers to find a nearby petrol station that is part of the scheme. Once they chose which station they’d like to use they click “ask for assistance.”

The petrol station immediately gets an automated phone call asking if they will be available to help. They press either 1 or 2 and the driver gets a message telling them yes or no. If it’s no you can try another station or try later.

If it’s yes you simply drive to the petrol station and click; “I’ve arrived” on the app. This alerts a member of staff who will then come out to help you. If there’s a delay the app shows exactly how long the staff expect to be.

Here’s fuelService’s mock up of what it would look like.

Other adjustments too

While the fuelService pledge is a big win something I think is far more important is staff awareness and training.

Tesco confirmed that they will “ensure that all their staff are aware of how to deal with and treat disabled customers in line with The Equality Act 2010.”

Shell have decided to pass this up to a higher level of management as they believe that it is an important issue that needs to be raised at a national level. I will be looking for updates from them to ensure that the issue isn’t kicked into the long grass. Credit to them for the speed of their response so far, it has been fantastic and the staff have been very helpful.

Not everyone has a smartphone

Related image

 

Don’t worry I didn’t forget that not everyone has a smartphone or is confident using an app. I also pushed them on what help they can offer to customers in these situations. I suggested as the Equality and Human Rights Commission does that they installed a bell of some type so drivers can alert staff.

The Tesco member of staff seemed to take to this idea and has promised to raise this a potential solution.

I made a point to them that although Asda Filling Stations have such a bell, often it’s far out of reach unless you climb half way out of your car window.

“Shell said that they this was already being considered which I found promising.”

Both advised that in the short term if I or anyone needs assistance, that calling the petrol station directly either before or on arrival,*(as long as you are INSIDE your car and not driving)* is perfectly acceptable and the staff will be happy to help.

My next steps

This may be a result but there is still much work to be done. Firstly I must ensure that both Shell and Tesco’s pledge isn’t lip service and that they follow through.

Secondly there are still some major players that are yet to get back to me. Companies like BP, Morrisons and Esso all so far haven’t replied. I understand that nothing happens overnight but will follow up with them in a timely manner if no response is received.

Thirdly I’ve decided to visit some of many independent filling stations that exist in my area in a bod to see if they will sign up to the fuelService scheme. 78 miles is my nearest and I’d very much like that to change not only for me but for everyone in my area who requires assistance to fill up their car.

15 miles from where I live is The City of Inverness, capital of the Highlands which The NewStatesmen reported in 2012 was “the fastest growing city in Western Europe.” Yet there’s no scheme at any filling station there that helps disabled drivers alert or ask staff for assistance.

I will keep you all updated on my progress and look forward to letting you know how I get on.

Alex Tiffin

Follow me on Twitter; @RespectIsVital

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