Petrol stations in Victoria are providing customers with a hands-free way to refuel their cars, (re)introducing dedicated attendants to fill up customers' tanks and arrange contactless payment amid renewed coronavirus lockdowns in the state.
Common during the 1950s and '60s, 'driveway assistance' – as it's known – was largely phased out in later decades due to the costs associated with staffing (and likely also due to the added profit potential in having customers discover a purchase opportunity in-store).
However, as residents of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are asked to observe strict social-distancing restrictions, service stations in those areas are reinstating the practice, tasking attendants with filling up cars and bringing Eftpos machines to drivers for payment.
"We have people coming from the other side of the Mornington Peninsula… now people won't fill up in Melbourne, they'll fill up here on their way to their holiday homes," Craig Turnley, owner of the Mornington Peninsula's Blairgowrie Automotive, told A Current Affair.
"It's really important because people can't get out of the house, they're afraid to even go to the supermarket," Mr Turnley added of the service.
Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, said a small handful of petrol stations have always offered driveway assistance, but it was mostly to cater to people with disabilities or for elderly drivers.
"There are probably less than 50 garages in all of Victoria that offer driveway assistance," Mr Gwilym said.
"You're more likely to find driveway assistance offered at a service station which has an on-site repair bay because they have more staff. A lot of service stations are far leaner – they've only got a console operator."
Happily, petrol stations that offer the service typically don't charge extra for the convenience.
Those interested in contactless refuelling should consult the VACC website to see their closest location – but be sure to call ahead.
"Give them a call at the garage to confirm it's still on offer, then tell them your registration number and tell them when you're coming so they know to come out," Mr Gwilym advised.
The same goes for those looking to visit a mechanic or service centre.
"Call the service centre or mechanic and ask if they can pick the car up and drop it off, as well as whether they disinfect and clean the car before they return it, because lots of people are doing that," Mr Gwilym said.
Service stations in Victoria offering driveway assistance
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