The BMW Driver Caltex Incident Shows Everything That’s Wrong (And Also Right) With The Internet Nowadays

I went for a petrol top-up at Caltex Upper Serangoon just two days before the incident. I had asked for $50 worth of petrol because I wanted to get the free Caltex tissue box, even keying the numbers into the pump myself before the attendant came to assist me.

When I was in the shop about to pay, the attendant rushed in and told me, “Sorry sorry! I accidentally pumped too much. You wanted $30 right? I stopped the pump too late at $35. So sorry!”.

He was extremely worried that I would refuse to pay the $5 that he thought he over-pumped by. His colleague who was doing inventory nearby commented, “Remember ah, if you put more than what the customer wanted, you have to pay the difference from your pocket, be careful.”

In the end, I ask him to help me top up to $50 because that’s what I wanted, not $35. He went out to top up the difference.

I thought that was the end of story until the cashier pulled up the bill for my pump – S$ 49.50. The pump attendant did his maths wrong. There goes my free tissue box. (But fortunately, the Cashier who saw the whole exchange decided to just go ahead and give the tissue box to me. :D)

Yes – the attendant who served me that day was also an elderly. And yes, I drove a BMW (that cost the same price as the Toyota Prius that most private hire drivers own). If he had over-pumped instead of under-pumped, and there was a Kelly Teo standing in the queue behind me, I might be the one in the lime light.

Read about what the Caltex Tampines BMW driver had to say about the incident.

The reason why I brought up the story is simple – it is easy and in fact pretty common for miscommunication to occur between customers and the pump attendants. It is not a big matter. But I think that there should be better ways in which petrol stations can handle the compensation in cases where the attendants put in more petrol that what was required.

The bigger issue here is – should we be self-righteous and publicly shame people on the internet without proper fact checks?

It has been revealed by the Police that Freddy (the BMW driver in question) was completely innocent. He was on the way to a car dealer to sell his vehicle, hence he only asked for $10 worth of petrol because that was all he needed to reach his car dealer in Jurong. Imagine having to pay for more than $100 of petrol that you will not be using because of a miscommunication.

(I remembered only pumping $5 or $10 each time on the days leading up to the trading in of my previous vehicle too. There are valid reasons why drivers may ask for such a small amount.)

Despite his innocence, think about what Freddy is going through right now. His career is in jeopardy. People have been stalking and following him to his residential home, where his young son and wife stays. He is fearful of the personal safety of his family members. What have they done to deserve this?

And the worst part – despite the statement by the police – most people who heard about this incident would probably never know that he is innocent – simply because bad news travel faster than the good ones.

All these happened because someone decided to be self-righteous and posted what she thought happened on the internet, with uncensored photos and car plate number without knowing the facts.

 

Note that in the screenshot above, the license plate was censored. This was because Kelly had earlier posted an uncensored version and took it down before posting a new version when the whole matter went viral. The photos of Freddy and his car at the station circulating the internet came from Kelly’s original post.

Upon seeing her post, the whole internet went crazy without bothering to fact check.

People fight for the underdog – I really think that is commendable and this is what makes our online community so great.

But, what if the information people were acting on was wrong in the first place?

Now, I hate to sound like a government mouthpiece – but isn’t this why the entire fake news debate is relevant to us? A vast majority of our netizens are too used to taking stories at face value without questioning it. This means the masses can be swayed based on nothing but untruths and hot air. That is potentially a very powerful tools for people with ill intent to manipulate public opinions.

While the whole internet is demanding that Freddy apologize for ‘bullying’ the elderly attendant, now that the truth is out, where are all the calls for people who have stalked him and his family to apologize?

Did Kelly apologize to Freddy and his family?

No, her Facebook profile photo, which was previously a photo of herself, had turned into that of a flower. She had hidden herself.

There were previously a number of public posts speaking strongly about her bad experience at certain establishments on her profile, and they have all been removed now.

As of writing, no signs of apology on her Facebook profile.

At the end of the day, who are the ultimate winners in the whole debacle? No one, except perhaps for certain content sites that posted more than 5 articles on this one single incident without any fact checks, all for traffic and cold hard advertisement cash?

Yes, let’s speak up and fight for those who were bullied! But the next time we do that, let’s get our facts figured out first, shall we?

Declaration: I have no relation to Freddy or Kelly.

 

100 comments
  1. Agreed. Perhaps best to watch the pump attendant fill your car before going to make payment. Or just fill up on your own like what many in other countries do. It does feel like there is a sense of self-entitlement from drivers on fueling up here in Singapore, or is there?

  2. Business is business.

    If Caltex allows to take verbal instruction from customer, then benefits of doubts always have to be given to customers. If not, they have to set up a business protocol to take the verbal instruction that can be verified. Example asking the customer to write in words or asking customers to punch the dollar amount or set up a CCTV.

    This gentleman buy $10 of petrol. He give a verbal instruction which Caltex allowed. Attendant pump S$130 instead. It is words against words. Caltex has to prove the customers has given wrong instructions. If can’t, benefits of doubts always belong to the customer.

    Customer has the right to pay $10 and leave. To pity or not to pity the pump attendant is subjective to individual feeling. The customer need not pity the pump attendant if he feels he need not do it. The customer is not in the wrong.

    1. Personally, I think it’s becos he’s only a pump attendant, that’s why he’s ‘bullied’. Imagine if it’s a surgeon, overcharged you after operating on you, will he still be able to just pay whatever he wants and walk away? The moment he leaves it to the pump attendant, it’s his agreement to let him do it for him, so he should just pay.

      1. There’s written proof and protocols to sign regarding medical treatment. Anyways, this should be a case where Carltex should look into – go revamp their sales system regarding this.

      2. This does not make sense. So if you ordered a kopi through the coffeeshop auntie or uncle and he gives you a teh then you have to just accept it and pay?

    2. Freddy is being ostracized for his lack of conscience. The thing that separates a hunan from a beast. It’s a valuable lesson for him and apparently for you too. It’s not over rights.

  3. The lesson that I learnt from this incident was:
    1. The attendant owns up to his responsibility. He admitted the mistake and made necessary rectifications.
    2. The BMW car driver took advantage of the situation. He could have paid it in full (and why shouldn’t he?) seeing that he could afford it.

    Arguably, this is about ethics and morals. The attendant was ethical. The driver was morally questionable.

          1. He can always joke with the car company to increase his sales price by $100 because he pumped $100 by accident.

          2. Uhh like what you said, it’s a joke. How do you expect him to raise his price by $100 for something he didn’t want?

      1. Smlj, its self righteous ppl like you and Kelly that get others into trouble. Ethics and morals are different, you’re not a saint, and the guy did no wrong.

      2. This was something Caltex should have seen from the start. With a situation where a customer’s words are against an employee’s words, this sort of situation would have happened eventually.

    1. Er why was his car still parked at HDB after a day when the incident was posted? Didn’t he said he was about to trade his car?

    2. Just because he can afford it, doesn’t mean he has to pay for it. You have to know that every cents was earned through hard-work or rather, working.

      Would it be fair if you were to pay extra just for someone’s careless/honest mistake?

    3. Why should the driver be made to suffer the consequences of someone else’s mistakes? He has no use for the extra $100+ petrol, so why shoud he be made to pay?
      Lets say you specifically ordered one crab for youself at a restaurant but in return u received 5 pieces of crab which you cannot finish, will you pay for the extra even though u can afford it?

  4. I admit online vigilantes have gone a lil overboard with the whole situation, but think about what Freddy has done to incur the further wrath of the public, when a simple police report would have solved the issue. He accused the attendant of being rude, when the public knowingly is on his/her side. So much for damage control?

    His story about him wanting to trade in his vehicle thus the $10 petrol is also not verified. Sources have posted his car being at different locations on the exact same night that he did the petrol top up. From Tampines to Teck Whye to many other places..

    I’m not siding anyone in this problem that’s been blown out of proportion, but I really do think Freddy should just issue a public apology to the kiosk attendant, case closed. Simple.

    1. Another quick judgement trying to rule out the validity of Freddy trading in the car that afternoon. Yes, there were post of the car being spotted at various locations after the incident. Did anyone sighted Freddy driving it? Are you implying that the car can only driven by Freddy?

      If you have been into 2nd hand car purchase before, you might have discovered that car dealers had to send the car to A workshop for checks, car grooming before displaying it at the shop to attract potential buyers.

      Do you know that 2nd hand car agents can sell cars on consignment too while that car belongs to another car dealer? Do you know that there are car agents who drive cars to potential buyers for viewing?

  5. This happened to me before, I just swallow the loss because I only needed a little fuel to get to JB to pump petrol and the attendant pumped full. I never made any noise. It’s just money. The attendant are working hard for their pay. Yes I used to drive a BMW when this happened.

    Making noise resulting in the attendant taking the loss instead is not right. It’s never morally right, on the other hand not criminally wrong.

    So people has the right to comment and continuously reprimand the person until another sensational news comes along.

    1. Anyone decent will know that if you ordered one kopi, 5 kopi were delivered, then drank all 5 kopi but demanded to pay for one kopi, and happily let old uncle waiter pay for 4 is wrong. Not the heartless selfish type though.

      1. In this case though, he would walk away after drinking one kopi and abandon the remainder if any. Anyone reasonable will not begrudge him not paying for what he did not use.

      2. the kopi analogy is silly. Imagine you are alone in the coffeeshop and you want only one cup of coffee
        but the guy brings you 13 cups, insisting that you ordered 13. do you

        1. pay for 13 cups anyway (since you can afford it) but throw it all away since you have to go and can’t stay to drink it all?
        2. return the cups and say plse pass it on to other customers, i just want one cup
        3. say sorry but i clearly ordered one cup. how can you expect me to drink it all?

        Now imagine halfway while you are still negotiating with the waiter, he says nevermind I pay. what do you do?

        and finally, some kaypoh screenshot you and assumes you bullied the waiter.

        maybe there is a good solution where everyone wins, (siphon the oil out etc) but note this: the attendant himself said he’ll pay for it. no one forced him to. in a situation like this, Caltex must have some SOP to deal, not the customer.

        come on, the guy fears for his family and cannot so his job, do we still need to send more negative vibes his way?

        1. i remember once there was a coffee shop server brought one cup of kopi 0 to me, and then later another server came with another one.

          He was surprised that the other server has served me already and he was actually called by the lady in charge at counter of the coffee shop who on seeing me asked him to bring a cup to me.

          Since there was a mistake, I decided to accept it and pay for the second cup, too. The two servers are actually very old elderly.

          They walked up and down in the refreshment area outside of the coffee shop from 6.30 am to 3 pm, bringing coffees and clearing the cups and cleaning up the table as well.

          It is indeed a tiresome job for them.

          Therefore I urge people not to be too stingy and harsh on them. Your day of their age will come sooner or later.

          Forget about the papist which never been known to gifting of their high pay to the poor. You all should do it as you will be rewarded by God.

          We should blame the papist for paying themselves rich and hence developed a rich gusto behaviors in this sobering rich-poor gap society.

          We should ask the papist to cut their pay and bonus by half and gave it to these poor elderly working until their legs became swellings from tiredness and their stressed up brain until they forgot who ordered what.

          An inclusive society should start with the papist instead. They should come down to the coffee shop to experience their long day of hard tasks with their miserly pay.

          There should be a minimum pay for them like what the security guards and table cleaners have enacted by the MOM to guard against “pay bullying” by contractor and employer.

          Two months ago, i even gave the two old lady servers with a S$100 ang pow each.

          I came to give them when came to know from some people that at the year end they never get 13th month salary and they never get 3 months bonus which is for civil servants or 9 months bonus which his for minister, which will they will automatically get them at 2 times a year – December and June – at every year.

    2. They absolutely do have the right to comment and continuously reprimand the person. Do they have the right however to put him in danger by releasing his personal information, address, phone number, etc to the public? The people who did that were reckless, unrestrained and dangerous to the community.

  6. Very apt article. These are the exact sentiments I have everytime I am out in public. “What if I do something that appears immoral or wrong to others and I get shamed online for it?”. Too many idiots out there who think they’re heros for bringing down others online, WITHOUT fact checking.

  7. Why can’t petrol station let customer to key in the exact amount they want from the panel? Why have to go through a human that can introduce human error.

  8. no body likes to be wrongly judged. So while we should all be careful not to spread fake news and to apply discretion, and this could be one instance, there were others who witnessed the same “cheat” at other places. so I guess you can’t really pin it on Kelly

    1. Kelly should have written in privately to Caltex. There was no need to publicly post the comment online for all to see.

  9. he can go many places he like, when not enough petrol he can top up another 5 or 10 dollars until he hand over vehicle to the dealer. who are you to judge people decision. you think people don’t know how to calculate their usage for their petrol? A BMW leh although is an old model. Dont talk big when things not happen to you. many people came across this when you ask to top up 15 and in the end became 50 becuse the attendant hear wrongly. why must I pay the difference. just because you drive a bigger car doesn’t means you must always top up that much.

  10. “All these happened because someone decided to be self-righteous and posted what she thought happened on the internet, with uncensored photos and car plate number without knowing the facts.”

    Honestly, it is not common for people to pump only $10 of petrol especially for car and given such situation , if you are so mindful and calculative, you should have pump it yourself or at least be there to watch the meter. It is very very fishy when someone pump $10 which sounds like full tank (ten vs tank) and the duration to pump $10 worth of petrol vs $135 worth of petrol is vastly different.

    Aren’t you also feeling righteous and want to write your thoughts about this incident? Are you very different from Kelly?

    I believe any decent person who seen what Kelly has witnessed will be alarmed hence feel compelled to express her point like what you did.

    We common people aren’t police, and to really investigate thoroughly and then post our thoughts are something that people should be more aware of but honestly not practical and we do not have the authority to investigate also. From what i read, she didn’t accuse the BMW driver of anything, she is just stating like a matter of fact of what has happened.

    it is the reaction and the online CSI people who went overboard.

    And whatever told to the police is also a one sided explanation. Given his inconsistencies via his newspaper interviews. In Singapore, when no physical harm or monetary loss, they won’t really investigate so thoroughly since Caltex also did not lodge a police report. It is an issue blown up due to the lack of graciousness and accountability of the BMW owner that irks so many people.

    1. aren’t you also then being righteous pointing out what the writer is doing wrong? Message him privately if you really believe in that

      1. Because i didn’t support his view. I fwel3itnos normal for people to express…i didn’t say wjat kelly did is wrong and i didnt say what he wrote is wrong.i merely pointed out that we all behave the same

  11. Not checking the facts, more likely applies to your post. This is completely absurd. If he was a kind soul who understood that its rather tough for a pump attendant to even pay 125 out of his pocket. He could have offered a 50/50 compensation, wouldnt that have served a greater purpose? In another form, why wouldnt you adjust your comments into:” if he had thought of his career, status and life in a whole aspect, couldnt he afford to shake it off his shoulder and just pay” instead of blabbering a bunch of nonsense. This is what you called karma serving you the dish you prepared for yourself.

  12. Been following in this topic for while and i have a doubt (Excuse my ignorance, im a driver but dont own a car in Singapore not sure hows the process here). Cant your pump attendant input the amount requested by customer into the machine before he start pumping? So the machine stops on point.

    For the case of this writer it sounds like the attendant did not do that but just released the pump based on the running meter. If anyone who have experience in pumping will know (or at least in Malaysia) it is very difficult to stop at $ xx.00. Also note that because the cashier said u have to pay if u pump more than what customer wants. The customer want $50.00 if i know i cannot make it at $50.00 on point of coz i pump less else i have to pay the extra. Even if its a few cents its extra and customer have the right to argue. They are not blur or careless but why take the risk. (Dear writer, do you agree?)

    Back to the original case, some may say the driver is not wrong to just let the attendant pay because is his fault and he has to bear the responsibility. That’s true, he’s not obligated to pay. But since he can stay by his principal and has no empathy towards less fortunate people, then maybe he cant expect empathy from others too. Of course even i agree the main culprit is miss kelly for her irresponsible post and those hero wannabes who disturb mr freddy.

    But hor (Sorry abit long winded, promise last one) this ms kelly if so wanna be hero, go pay for the attendant la, then u are real life saver. Not by ruining other ppl’s life ma. Right? K.thx.bye

    1. I’m sorry to say this, but you have made many retarded comments in your long exposé that just… ugh….

      Firstly, I’m not sure how people do it in Malaysia, but I won’t go so far as to assume SG and MY are that different (unless you’re proving yourself to be different from the rest of us). My point is, NOBODY said anything about manually attempting to fill the tank to hit the exact numerical value to the $xx.00 ==> where the heck did you receive this assumption from, dude?

      Secondly, with your ‘experience’ as a driver (in MY or SG or otherwise), don’t you even have basic knowledge that “filling full tank” means to leave the pump in until the fuel reaches a certain level, hitting the pump, thus triggering a cut of mechanism and stops the pump from discharging more fuel? Now, not only are you presumptuous, you appear to be ignorant too…

      Lastly, talk is cheap. Anyone can say that Kelly can simply pay the difference if she feels so “indignant” or unjust for the pump attendant. Would you? Until you’ve evinced yourself to be such a saint, you’d do well to being “just another keyboard SJW”.

      Lame.

      1. @YELSEW maybe you need to reread the whole article? The manual pumping was mentioned in the example given by the author of the article in the first paragraph. ” You wanted $30 right? I stopped the pump too late at $35. So sorry!”. ”

        Your second point is very uncalled for. There are people who go through their lives without learning about every single technicality they come across. You know how the pump works? Good for you. There is absolutely no need to berate someone for their lack of knowledge about this. They could be some expert in another area/have interests elsewhere that they simply do not care how the pump works.

        1. The pump was keyed to stop at $50. As the pump was running the attendance suddenly recalled that he may have heard me say $30 instead of $50 so he quickly stopped it manually.

    2. Empathy for the less fortunate? What makes one less fortunate than the other? Because of the perceived gulf in wealth? So anyone south a lower salary than you can screw you over and you are supposed to suck it up?

      1. To add on. Kelly’s post is more to get the driver into trouble than out of any sympathy for the attendent. The whole story is just an excuse to cause shit because the driver made her wait in queue and she got pissed. Don’t ask me how i know. You can choose to believe or not. Doesn’t matter to me.

  13. Actually there is a difference in what the owner of the BMW said.. He said that he is on the way to trade in the car but the car was spotted at night in 3 different places till the next morning. I dont think its the dealer who took in his car who drove it to so many different places at night.. And also there are ppl who witness the BMW owner using the same trick so many times.. What kelly did might be wrong but it also brings out the awareness in people.. Caltex did not make the attendant pay the difference could be because of the media that is focusing so much attention on the case.. whatever it is, to me what i felt was, if you are just pumping $10 worth of petrol why not do it yourself? Its only less than 1min of your time.. 2nd what makes you so sure that the BMW driver didnt sell his car due to the pressure he is receiving through the trending of him through social media? This is actually a simple case and its easy to resolve it but yet he chose to go to the police and make stupid claims that he wanted to sue kelly.. this shows that he is not repentant and he is not man enough.. He could have just issue a statement through his fb to explain his side of the story and just offer to pay up the difference of $125 and to apologise to the old attendant due to maybe he did not make his intention of $10 petrol clear enough.. Through this way of settling the whole issue, it would have a better effect to show his graciousness and also his so call 1st honest mistake( cause there have been witness saying this was not the first time doing it but he is unlucky he got caught on candid camera this time round ).. im not related to either party but this is my 2cents worth of thoughts..

  14. The issue here I think is about ethics. If the driver only wants to pump $10, and upon knowing the attendant pumped full tank, he should actually ask the attendant pump out the extra petrol. But he didn’t. He got a full tank, and paid only $10. For all keyboard warriors, do check if petrol station can pump out extra petrol, before commenting on this comment (:

  15. Whose fault it is…it doesn’t matter…only the pump attendant and the Freddy knows the truth…what matters to me now is this Freddy from the Nightmare On Elm Street?..that’s the only thing I want to know…pls do update me…I’m seriously curious…

  16. Hey.. i think her name shud have been censored , preventing people who r new to the case from knowing about her and any subsequent witchhunt. Else, your actions are no different from her. We should focus on the subject, not the person..

  17. Well here is a flip side to the coin – although Netizens have trolled the BMW driver and taken him to town, they never really understood that there might be more to it than it looks.. yes his communication skills were wrong and yes he could have been clearer and also you can argue that he should have paid for the fuel which he will eventually use however this is an isolated incident that was over glorified.

    For drivers who condemned the Driver – next time you stop to refuel, do it yourself its not hard its actually damn easy just like you do it yourself in JB – let the pump attendant clean your window or only help when you are confused thats why they are actually there.

    For people feeling sorry for the Pump Attendant – well shit happen, we live in an age where our elderly have to go out to work and cant sit back and enjoy their golden years, well think about it its not easy but it is a harsh as hell reality.

    For those who posted personal information about the driver including his contact info(some even messaged him) – have you heard of PDPA?? you know the kind of trouble you can get into especially if the thread started from you? just saying.

    well enough said – move on Singapore!

  18. Unfortunate that social media has become a flaming platform rather than the original intent of connecting friends. I always seem to see so many “big hearted, caring and sticking up for the little guy” people around commenting and doing investigative work to bring the evil party to “justice”. My only question is, how come I don’t see that in public but only online? Do any of them actually tip their pump attendant when they get petrol? Why didn’t the person who started posting this case online who was there, stick up at that very moment for the poor old attendant that she felt was being mistreated? I have seen many atrocities committed in public but no one was there to stick up for the victim in public at that moment.. Most people will walk by staring or just take out their camera.. I only have 1 small matter to comment which is a lot of times these cases are miscommunications facts or very small matters.. We seem to make a mountain out of a mole hill. There are so many bigger issues in the world that if we should band together and make a difference. If we put in the same amount of energy that we put in this BWM case, we can change the world for the better..

  19. Stay east but decided to to sell his car all the way in the West where most of the 2nd hand car traders are in the east. Sounds right. So convenient.

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