Full-service gas stations a thing of the past?

Colin MacLean
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AMHERST - The day Irving told George Wheaton that it was time to cut back on full-service gas at his Parrsboro station was the day he offered to give back the keys.
That day was several years ago and Wheaton still has the keys to his Irving station and his full-service gas pumps. He hasn't heard much on the subject from Irving since.
In fact his station didn't even have self-service gas until about 10 years ago.
"You lose contact with your customers," said Wheaton.
Many stations in the province don't share Wheaton's point of view. Many who once offered the service have done away with it to cut costs.
This poses a huge inconvenience for seniors, said Bernie LaRusic President of the Nova Scotia Government Retired Employees Association.
"A vehicle is a necessity for many seniors. So they need to be mindful of where these services are," he said.
In the past he has inquired to stations as to what seniors with difficulties with mobility are supposed to do. He was told that when staff are able someone will be out to assist them.
"But I haven't heard great praise for this," he said.
LaRusic suggested that next time a consumer is pumping their gas on a cold winter day, they imagine adding 30 or 40 years to their age and bad arthritis to the activity.
Mainly it's the seniors who take advantage of the full service, said Wheaton. Though many other people use the service as well. There are even a few businesses that stop at his station just because he has the full service, he said.
Though he can see why some stations have done away with the service, it is an added cost. And the few cents that's charged extra doesn't always cover the expense.
But he finds looking over the car while you're out there, you have the opportunity to sell other things like windshield wiper blades, oil and inspections.
It all comes back to something Arthur Irving once told him 25 years ago.
"You don't try to gouge the customer, but you can suggest," he said.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Government Retired Employees Association

Geographic location: AMHERST, Parrsboro

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  • Terri
    January 18, 2010 - 11:06

    Hooray for Wheaton's Irving for continuing to offer, gasp, 'service' at their service station! I travel all over Atlantic Canada for work and i can tell you that we serve stations are few and far between. Luckily, I drive a diesel, so I make a point of filling up at George's before I go then plan to be back in town 1100 kms later when I need to fill up again. It's astonishing to believe that, with so much of our population aging, this service is being cut back elsewhere. I'm not a senior I do appreciate good service and I'm willing to pay an extra few cents for it.

  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 11:02

    Isn't service a thing of the past most places...gas stations or stores or elsewhere?
    Bob