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January 7, 2004 03:00 AM

Broken: Gas pump

Grant Skousen points us to this gas pump in rural Utah.


I've seen a lot of people struggle with gas pumps, they all seem to be a little different. Why? Why are ATMs different? What's the competitive advantage to creating a commodity that I have to stare at for 20 seconds to figure out how to use?

I wonder if these differences are asked for by the oil companies, or differences in manufacture and patents...

Posted by: Scott Palmer at January 7, 2004 11:12 AM

Amazing. Nearly every gas pump of this style I've seen here in FL has a similar home-made sign taped on it.

Posted by: J. Kruger at January 7, 2004 11:31 AM

I actually thought that gas pumps with instructions were funny - until this year on holiday in the states when I realised just how different they were - like pulling up the lever that the handle normally sits on....don't get anything like that in the uk!

Posted by: Andy at January 7, 2004 12:26 PM

A gas station near my home decided it would be a good idea to switch the order of the quality of gas (lower octane in the center). I was so used to getting the gas from the far right. I did not notice until some time later. I’m not sure if this was actually a well thought out idea. Has this happened to anyone else?


Posted by: Micah at January 7, 2004 06:43 PM

I hate _slow_ gas pumps. The ones that take a few seconds to register and display the new screen.




no.... wait....


no.... wait....

I mean, come on. Plus most all gas pumps have the same physical features, its just that the combination needed to make the gas come out changes. Do I lift this one? Press start? Press it on the screen?

I don't have problems with it -- I'm a quick reader and work with crap like this on a daily basis, but I can see how other people get seriously confused.

Posted by: Alex at January 7, 2004 08:10 PM

Speaking of slow pumps... I gather that the owners have a say in how fast the pump actually dispenses gas. If so, what's the point behind making the gas come out one drop at a time??? I get so frustrated at these type of pumps that I make it a point to avoid them at all costs because most of the time, when I fill up, I'm in a hurry to get somewhere.

I don't know, maybe I need to slow down anyway!

Posted by: John at January 7, 2004 10:56 PM

sometimes when i'm pumping and someoen else comes up on the other side of that island my side slows down considerably once they start fueling. so i imagine, like most plumbing, you go so much pressure and if you double the draw, you half the rate to each. so, with that in mind, maybe each gas station has different types of "actual pumps". the part of the whole "pump island" that pushes the gas up to ya. so maybe its not a devilish marketing strategy. maybe it is.

as for the changing the octane order..if fell for that too once. but just felt stupid and didn't feel it was a marketing conspiracy. i imagine those things aren't just labels slapped on.. i imagine thats quite a major routing issue inside based on where the different reservoir exist in the ground.

Posted by: araboth at January 9, 2004 02:07 PM

It's well known that signs like this are an indication of bad design (an observation I attribute to Don Norman, although he may not have been its originator). But hooray for the people who observe such bad design, have the smarts not to blame the people who trip over it, and take the initiative to apply a workaround.

Posted by: Carl Manaster at January 11, 2004 12:11 PM

What's broken is they're selling 85 octane gas. Yikes

Posted by: john at February 29, 2004 06:39 AM

85 octane is pretty obscene. I haven't seen that at a Chevron station before, but Sunoco usually sells 85 octane as one of their five choices between 85 and 93. The bonus is that 85 octane at Sunoco usually costs as much as 89 octane anywhere else.

Posted by: Barry at April 6, 2004 01:37 AM

Sometimes, after pumping they ask you if you want a receipt. I answer "YES" since I keep track of my gass expenses. Exxon asks if you want to add a car wash to your credit card. So I have to be careful and read the inevitably hard to read screen to make sure I am not purchasing unintended services.

Posted by: Chris Baker at September 8, 2004 12:29 PM

Something I don't like about this pump is something I'm seeing more and more of. The button that has to be pointed out doesn't look like a button.

When no gas starts comming out, you know you have to push pull poke dial or bark at something, so you look at the pump for some type of control device, a button, knob, dial or lever or switch or some such. Since few buttons are 10 inches long and 1 inch high, you miss that one until you've given up finding an obvious choice and systematically read everything on the pump. (and this pump has 16 buttons, 3 levers/slides under the nozzles, 5 LCD's and 17 seperate rectagular areas containing text.) If you have to examine all of it for the first time you are going to be a while.

Posted by: billc at December 13, 2004 06:52 PM

Does anyone know where the picture went on this one?

Posted by: Brian at January 15, 2005 09:52 PM

Gas pumps are meant simply to weed truly stupid people from the roads. Un fortunately, these people take the same route everytday, and cause traffic imbalances.


Posted by: Sido at September 6, 2005 08:28 PM

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