Always Print Your Gas Pump Receipt As Proof Of Purchase

You probably wouldn’t try to leave a retail store without a receipt, but you might not think about it when you’re at the gas pump—after all, it’s not like you’re going to bring the gas back for a refund. But a reader points out that you should always have your proof of purchase just in case you end up in an awkward situation:

I pulled out of the lot, turned left, and I wasn’t more than 200 yards away when a cop comes up behind me, lights flashing. I knew I couldn’t have been speeding so I was genuinely confused. He said the woman at the United Dairy Farmers said I drove off without paying for gas.

Here’s Chris’ full story:

I had an interesting experience on Friday and a life lesson I think is worth passing onto other readers. On Friday I stopped at a United Dairy Farmers (local Cincinnati convenience store/ice cream parlor) to fill up while gas is relatively cheap. I pulled up to the pump, swiped my card, filled up, and paused before printing the receipt. Usually those things just end up wadding up in my pocket or under the seats of the car, but what the hell, I hit yes anyway. I then went inside to get a soft drink.

“Anything else?” the cashier asked. I said no, paid in change, and went back to my car. I pulled out of the lot, turned left, and I wasn’t more than 200 yards away when a cop comes up behind me, lights flashing. I knew I couldn’t have been speeding so I was genuinely confused. He said the woman at the United Dairy Farmers said I drove off without paying for gas. I said that was incorrect, and he said “She said it was a silver car, and she pointed at yours.” I do drive a silver car, but I had paid for gas, and wait! I told the officer I had my receipt, and he wrote down the details: Amount, pump number, last 4 of my credit card, and the time. I also pulled out the credit card I paid with and my license, just to verify everything was on the up and up. He was cool about it, apologized, and I was on my way.

Lesson here is to always print that receipt out. I rarely check it against my statements now that I don’t fill up as often. But without that 3×1 strip of paper I would have had a totally different story to tell. Needless to say I won’t be taking my business to United Dairy Farmers anymore – being falsely accused of theft is a dealbreaker.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Aww, don’t just drop the place because of that. Mixups like that happen sometimes.

  2. felixgolden says:

    I haven’t seen a pump in recent years that would let you start it without without some type of payment or cashier intervention first. So no drive-offs even possible, unless the cashier turns the pump on to allow you to fill up.

  3. timmus says:

    200 yards = 600 ft @ 20 mph = 20.5 seconds. Is it seriously possible to dispatch a cop that fast? Almost always the call goes through a dispatch center and then to the cop. If he really showed up that quick I wonder if the cashier called before he drove off, for some malicious reason.

  4. simplegreen says:

    I wonder what the figures are, if everyone in america DIDN’T print their receipts.. wonder what the ecological output would be.

  5. timmus says:

    Just to add, maybe the driveoff really did occur, but occurred minutes before the OP, and was in a similar car, thus a mixup. That seems plausible.

  6. Stanwell says:

    Or maybe let the cashier know you paid at the pump if you go inside to buy something else?

  7. snowburnt says:

    @timmus: …or maybe the cop was getting coffee there and the cashier caught his attention. Is it really necessary to nit-pick this point?

  8. Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen says:

    Debit Card + Cellphone access to bank account = Proof of payment

  9. Murph1908 says:

    I always pay at the pump.

    I often enter the store afterwards for a soda beverage.

    I have never been pulled over for suspicion of stealing gas.

    I have never had a friend or acquaintance that this has happened to.

    I will not fear any random, rare occurrence that happened to someone else someplace 800 miles away.

    I will continue to not print a receipt.

  10. CSR says:

    It’s also a good idea to get a reciept for another reason–where I live they had a run of cars get ruined because they filled up at a station that had lower gas prices than the rest. Turned out that the station was using way more alcohol than they were supposed to in their fuel. The people who ran into that problem are, of course, asking for damages. But the ones without a reciept are pretty much out of luck.

  11. GMFish says:

    I once accidentally drove off without paying. It was decades ago, about ’84. I got home and realized I probably didn’t pay. I called and asked if someone had just drove off without paying. They replied, “Yes.” I apologized profusely and said I’d be there in a few minutes to pay it. So I drove all the way back and paid.

    Because of that, I always get my receipt. Not to give to a cop, but to give to myself to ensure that I paid.

  12. JohnDeere says:

    @TalKeaton: he paid with his card the clerk can check that. yes drop that store.

  13. UnicornMaster says:

    You could also pull up your pending transactions on your iPhone, if it were so necessary.

  14. cmdrsass says:

    @TalKeaton: I would say being harassed by a police officer because a store clerk screwed up big time is a pretty good reason not to patronize the business any more.

    I, too, will continue not to print my receipt and skip the overpriced car wash.

  15. evslin says:

    @DeanOfAllTrades: Yeah, I wonder if a cop would let you call in to your bank/cc issuer and get proof from a rep there that there is an authorization for funds.

    I’ve been printing receipts off anyway so I can check my gas mileage later.

  16. DashTheHand says:

    Oh, I love being accused of being a thief and being guilty by anyone that can point a finger until I prove myself innocent in this country.

  17. smallestmills says:

    I’m sure the store would also have record of payment (such as a receipt journal) if one didn’t print a receipt and should happen to be pulled over. It would take more time, but I’m not going to print receipts just because of a freak accident that happened to one person ONCE.

  18. obfusciatrist says:

    Lost me in the first sentence, for 99% of my retail transactions if I could leave without a receipt I would do so.

    But otherwise I agree, printing gas receipts because of the details of this story would be a bit like me installing a giant trampoline over my house to repel meteors because of the news story about a house in Australia that got hit by one.

  19. Tiber says:

    @felixgolden: It depends on the area. In Michigan, most of the places I’ve seen don’t require pre-pay, except possibly at night. When I moved to Florida for college, all of the places I’d seen were pre-pay.

  20. MeOhMy says:

    Why doesn’t United Dairy Farms just have someone standing at the driveway to check your receipt when you leave? Problem solved!

  21. Sure, having a receipt may save you a little hassle, but it’s not your responsibility to prove you didn’t do a crime. It’s the other party’s responsibility to prove you did.

  22. Here in NY, our local stations (like Stewarts) have signs up saying “We have camera’s on the pumps at all times, this prevents you from having to prepay for your gas” Most of the time, our local stations don’t require you prepay, they just turn the pump on for you. But I guess we live in a trusting area…? But that blows. Thanks for the tip, OP! I’ll remember to tuck my receipt in a safe place next time, instead of throwing them out in a day or two.

  23. @simplegreen:

    I wonder what the figures are, if everyone in america DIDN’T print their receipts.. wonder what the ecological output would be.

    It would cure cancer.

  24. SpdRacer says:

    @CSR: It’s called a bank or credit card statement.

  25. I always print my receipt, but on the occasions when the printer jams, or is out of paper, I don’t worry about it. I’m paranoid about stuff like this, and especially in this day and age of high gas prices and drive-offs, we should be careful to protect ourselves.

  26. captadam says:

    A receipt helps, but it’s probably better, if you pay at the pump, to move your car away from the pump and park in front of the store if you want to go in to by something. This will avoid mix-ups and will also free up the pumps for other customers.

  27. captadam says:

    @captadam: BUY something, not BY something.

  28. What was the point of paying at the pump if you were going into the store anyways? The whole point of paying at the pump is to get out of there fast without wasting time going into the store. Suits her right for the cashier thinking something shifty was up. Of course the cashier could have always asked her why she wasn’t paying for her gas.

  29. digitalgimpus says:

    @timmus: Interesting catch.

    This doesn’t make sense. Retailers are supposed to have records of *all transactions*. The customer should have insisted the officer get the transaction from the retailer. If the retailer has it (which is an obvious yes), that was a false police report (and obviously intentional since retailers have access to the data and could have checked). That’s criminal in just about every place in the US.

    The receipt is YOUR copy… but the retailer has a copy themselves.

    Even in cases of cash… There should be a security camera anyplace a transaction takes place. So the customer should have requested the officer check the security tape. When the proof is played… the retailer should have really been arrested for a false police report.

    I’m a little disgruntled that the customer didn’t insist the officer investigate if it was a false police report.

    I’m guessing some people will just go back and pay cash, essentially double playing. A nice way for gas stations to make up for those credit card fees.

  30. JN2 says:

    Maybe this was the Cops way of getting your phone number. Was he cute?

  31. johnva says:

    @theninjasquad: No, it doesn’t “suit her right”. I’ve done that all the time, usually because I didn’t feel like going in to prepay or preswipe my card before pumping my gas.

  32. pegr says:

    That is why I do just that. Never been stopped before though. Good move, submitter!

  33. Hawk07 says:

    I don’t know why people would willingly leave without a receipt.

    What happens if you visit an unethical gas station or there’s a computer error and your $20 fillup says you pumped $200 worth of gas? How do you have any proof that you didn’t indeed fillup for $200?

    Yeah, 99.9% of gas transactions are problem free, but I don’t think you’d want to be fighting an error like the one mentioned.

  34. craiggers says:

    Another reason to always get a receipt from the pump…it closes out the transaction. My friend’s dad a few years ago had his card get charged because the pump’s computer got hung up and not only charged him for his gas…but also the next 6 people to get gas at that pump.

    He was able to call and get the charges taken off…but still…why take the chance?

  35. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Hawk07: OK, now there is a situation that would cause a charge back!

  36. MelL says:

    Long ago, my Army Reserve unit had a similar encounter down in Georgia while passing through to an exercise in government vans. We had stopped to get gas for all of our vans and after we had left, our lead vehicle was pulled over, with the accusation being that they had driven away without paying. As is standard procedure, the driver had a receipt since he had used the vehicle’s government card to pay for it, so it ended happily for us.

  37. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @craiggers: Shouldn’t have saying ‘No’ to the receipt ended the transaction too?

  38. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    In El Paso you cannot pump then pay. By law all gas purchases must be pre-paid. This has eliminated drive-offs and calls to police.

  39. ryan89 says:

    @Troy F.: Then we would have stories about people being harassed on their way out of the gas station after refusing to show their receipt!

  40. palookapalooza says:

    OK, you no-receipters, riddle me this. You’re obviously smart people. Why would you not want to keep a record of your purchases? I use them to reconcile the transactions on my statements, just to make sure the merchant is being honest and accurate. Are you that sure that the pay-at-the-pump systems are so accurate and secure that you’d walk away with no record of the transaction for yourself? Yeah, it’s a little paper, but I’d rather know that I’ve got a little ammo at least if things went wonky at the pump, or if the kid I handed my card to at the drive-thru didn’t punch in an extra 20 bucks to take out of the till…

  41. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    I can’t imagine not having a receipt. I mean, CCTV would have a record of you paying inside I guess, and there would be an electronic record of paying with your card, but yeah, I’d never go there again-I don’t think that’s overreacting, not suing or filing charges, or smearing them, just voting with your wallet against a place that sends the cops after you on a whim

  42. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @palookapalooza: Speaking of which, a local gas station has been using the ol’ bait n switch. The price it charges at the pump is .05 higher than posted. Didn’t notice until I looked at my receipt

  43. msmith6044 says:

    Same thing happened to me, except it was at a Clark station.
    Paid for gas at the pump via credit card, but then went inside and bought coffee.
    In my case, the cop showed up at my door, instead of pulling me over. I showed him my receipt and he left.
    I always wondered how they tracked me down, since I paid cash for the
    coffee. Did somebody up the credit card transaction that I supposedly
    didn’t make or did they check the video tape that included my paying
    for the gas ?

  44. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @theninjasquad: What are you talking about? It’s easier to swipe a card than wait in line or interact with someone. If I want something I’ll go in while my fuel pumps

  45. ObtuseGoose says:

    There are places where you can pump gas without having to prepay?

    *the more you know*

  46. Veeber says:

    @Murph1908: Actually, there’s a good reason to print the receipt. It allows you to look at your fill-up later and see if it fits the pattern for your previous fill-ups. My car usually only needs 12 gallons to fill-up, but everytime I went to this one Exxon statio down the street I would need nearly 13 gallons. Turns out their pumps needed to be recalibrated.

  47. @digitalgimpus:

    The customer should have insisted the officer get the transaction from the retailer. If the retailer has it (which is an obvious yes), that was a false police report…That’s criminal in just about every place in the US.

    Wrong. Calling the police about a suspected crime is not tantamount to filing a police report. Are you saying that someone who calls about suspicious activity in their neighborhood should be charged with a crime when no arrests are made? Is calling the police about a suspected DUI a crime when the person is found not to be intoxicated?

    I’m no lawyer, but I understand the difference in a police report and calling the police.

    It’s really infuriating when people recruit random laws that do not apply to help their argument. A personal favorite is the right to free speech. Example: “I was banned from Consumerist for posting things against the comments code – they violated my right to free speech!”

  48. thelushie says:

    @cmdrsass: How is this harassment? The cop answered a call. Pulled her over and got the proof he needed to realize it was a mix up and APOLOGIZED. At no point did she have to get out of the car and put her hands behind her back, had a gun stuck in her face, was yelled at, or tazed. In fact, she said he was cool about it. She didn’t seem that upset.

    Getting pulled over is not harassment. It was an error. It happens.

    If she didn’t have her receipt, then they would have to look it up in the computer and it would have been straightened out. And then major amounts of apologies had better occur!

  49. Tmoney02 says:

    @CSR: that doesn’t make sense why couldn’t they just bring in their credit card statement?

  50. danep says:

    @palookapalooza: Because in my decade or so of using credit cards, of all of the erroneous charges that I’ve had (there are only a few I can recall), none of them would have been prevented or corrected by saving the receipt. I think ten years of not having to constantly flush my car/pockets/wallet of little bits of paper is well worth any potential trouble resulting from not saving receipts…

  51. kchenx says:

    Why didn’t the cashier just charge her for the gas when she went in for the soft drink? I’m also wondering if the commenter peeled out of the gas station yelling, “PEACE OUT SUCCKKAASS!!!” That’s what probably caused the confusion.

  52. She should have simply showed her recei…oh wait, she did, and it fixed the problem. :)

  53. hellinmyeyes says:

    I always print my receipts so I can remember to enter them into the ledger. Otherwise, I always will forget the amount, and balancing will become a nightmare. Good idea, though. Definitely saved the day, it seems.

  54. I’m surprised no one has made a joke about refusing to show the cop your receipt out of sheer principle, claiming he’s nothing more than a glorified door greeter!

  55. Tmoney02 says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: If I want something I’ll go in while my fuel pumps

    That is pretty dumb. First, you run the risk of someone taking your unattended nozzle out and stealing your gas. Second you create a public safety risk by not being present in case something goes wrong and/or needs attention. Third, In most places it is against the law to pump gas unattended.

  56. Spencer says:

    First, I’ve read that the majority of “newer” cars on the road these days are silver (the nation’s most popular color choice for cars). So pointing out a silver car is pretty ridiculous.

    Second, at the gas station in my town, while chatting with the clerk, she said that the cameras in the store are good enough to read a credit card in her hand (why?), but the ones outside are not good enough to read a plate. Also, they allow gas to be pumped with no pre-payment. Also, if there are three drive-offs the clerk gets fucking fired.

    I happen to work in a field where I implement outdoor IP cameras, license plate OCR, and loop sensors. I feel like it would be pretty simple to write some software where if a loop gets unlatched with no payment detected, it would signal a camera for that lane that would grab the license and picture of the car, OCR that bastard, and send it directly to 5-0.

  57. coren says:

    @timmus: I’m not sure how you could mix them up if that’s the scenario – someone does a gas and dash, and then 10 minutes later there’s another car that’s kinda similar? I don’t buy it.

    @snowburnt: It’s not nitpicking, it’s a kinda important point. Does this store have a history of being gas and dashed? Is this customer someone who they’ve had an issue with in the past (I am not trying to blame the OP, just putting out reasons why a cop could be there so quick)? There are reasons it could have happened beyond those stated, and possibly those reasons shed more light on the story.

    @theninjasquad: Maybe he decided he wanted something after he paid? It’s still quicker to pay for the gas at the pump then have the cashier look up the pump and do the transaction, plus if there was a line, eh has the option of skipping out his little item – not so much if he didn’t already pay the gas.

    Also, am I missing something? Why is it assumed the OP is female? I thought the picture was just a picture that got stuck with the article, which happens sometimes on here. I mean, it’s from Getty which is a stock image site…

  58. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @Tmoney02: Point three-not where I come from. And I usually don’t drive alone. Either way, nothing wrong with buying a soda but paying at the pump

  59. battra92 says:

    @verucalise: You’d think Stewarts would want you inside to be tempted by their awesome ice cream. :D

  60. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: And even if it seems idiotic, at the very, very, very least, it is not reasonable suspicion of theft because (among other reasons) it is so common

  61. And this is why I’m glad I can’t have this problem in Jersey.

  62. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @craiggers: Printing the receipt does not “close out the transaction.”
    @Rectilinear Propagation: Many pumps now ask about the receipt before you pump gas. If you don’t want a receipt, how on earth would the pump know to “close out the transaction”?

    Returning the nozzle to the pump “closes out” the transaction.
    Printing the receipt happens AFTER the transaction is “closed.”

  63. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Also as far as having a receipt to prove you bought gas in case of contamination…my CC statement shows when, where, and how much. I would imagine this is acceptable as evidence in most legal proceedings.

    Even with a receipt…how can you prove you pumped the gas into a specific vehicle? Maybe you got gas for your friend?

    The officer apologized, and most cashiers would as well.

  64. ifixit says:

    Maybe there were 2 silver cars and the cop made the mistake!

  65. LionelEHutz says:

    @kchenx: @kchenx: The cashier didn’t charge her for gas when she went in for the soft drink because she didn’t tell the cashier she needed gas BECAUSE she used her credit card AT THE PUMP to pay for gas. Get it? The confusion is that the cashier was too dense at that time to understand that customers can pay at the pump with a credit card while also going into the store to buy with cold hard cash.

  66. ViperBorg says:

    @Troy F.: Because people like me would just run them over.

  67. cabalist says:

    “Things like this just happen”, alright, but these are the things that make us change our habits.

    The least that they should have done was to comp her gas and apologize. The most I would expect would be a $50 gift card on top of that.

    Being accused of a crime when you are innocent is one of the hardest, most humiliating things that can happen (this has happened to me and I felt HELPLESS, really, really helpless). In these situations YOU are wrong and the MERCHANT/COP is right. This is true right up to the point where you over-prove your case (simply proving something is not enough when you have two people who both think that your are lying).

    I don’t have a (huge) problem with someone making a mistake, but they have to be held responsible for their actions (just as the poster would have been if she had indeed stolen that gas) and make things right when they are wrong.

  68. ohiomensch says:

    I always get a receipt. Years ago, I pulled into a station to fill up but my gas cap was frozen and would not come off. I left to get my cap unfrozen, while I was driving, someone passed me, ran me off the road, got out of his car and started screaming that I had stolen gas. It was the boyfriend of the cashier at the store. I told him to call the police and we would settle it.

    Police came, got my gas cap off, verified that I was bone empty, and asked if I wanted to press charges against the guy that ran me off the road (No, I didn’t).


    Cops usually hang out at these places for the free coffee. The cops in our city do it every day. He was probably there and the casheir just told him

  69. Cupajo says:

    This whole ‘pre-pay’ thing always kind of pissed me off anyway. The first time it happened to me, I picked up the pump and a voice comes over the speaker informing me that all pumps were pre-pay. I was irritated but I went in anyway and, since all I has was a fifty, I handed that to the clerk and asked for a receipt (knowing I wouldn’t need $50 worth of gas). She said they “weren’t set up for that” and I told her I didn’t really give a rat’s ass what they were “set up for”. If she didn’t trust me with their gasoline, I didn’t trust her with my fifty. She called the manager and I repeated the same thing to him and made him give me a hand-written receipt with his signature on it. Was I being a dick-head? Probably, but it’s a valid point. How did I know I they wouldn’t claim it was a twenty when I went back in to get my change.

  70. badhatharry says:

    You showed your receipt? But that’s what the Nazis and al-Qaida would want you to do!

  71. Jacquilynne says:

    I had something similar happen to me once, though minus the actual police. I’d pulled into a Shell station to fill up and as I was leaving again, the clerk came running madly towards me gesturing at me to stop and then said I hadn’t paid.

    Since I have a fast pass for Shell, and had a receipt, I was pretty sure I’d paid, so I showed it to him and drove off. I didn’t realize I was supposed to be as traumatized as some of these commenters suggest I should have been.

    Though I was mildly annoyed that the guy was stupid enough to think that my Honda Civic had been the one to not pay for $87 in gas (in the era of much lower gas prices) and not, say, the giant frigging truck that was still sitting at the pumps next to me.

  72. DrGirlfriend says:

    Hooray for Oregon, where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas! Screw receipts, man.

  73. k6richar says:

    Had something like this happen to my brother. He didn’t have a receipt but his car had a 35L tank and he was accused of stealing over 80L of gas. The attendant stopped him and called the police, police checked his trunk for gas cans, he had none and sent him on his way.

  74. Tarpo says:

    I don’t get gas a UDF becuase one of their crappy stations decided that it was easier to ignore the water in their gas instead of shutting down and fixing it.

    But I still go back for Milkshakes

  75. theysaidwhat says:

    @GMFish: I also drove off once without paying, years ago. I only got to the corner before I realized my mistake and went back and paid. The evil I that I got from the employees was pretty awful, but hey–I hadn’t paid, so I understood it.

  76. kchenx says:

    @LionelEHutz: Oh I got it the first time. My point was that if the cashier thought the customer hadn’t paid at the pump, then why not just charge for the gas when he/she got the soda, or at least ask if the gas was paid for already?

    Though in my opinion this wasn’t too big a deal. The cop was nice about it and the poster seemed not to mind the inconvenience. You never know, maybe the gas station has had a lot of gas thefts lately and/or it was that cashier’s first day.

  77. TVarmy says:

    I only take reciepts when I know I’ll likely return something or I want someone to comp me (business expenses, buying something for my mom to save her a trip). I really hate having a receipt just to prove I didn’t shoplift. Granted, I live in NJ, where I at least have the word of an employee who personally pumped my gas to prove that I paid.

  78. synergy says:

    I hope the cop only wrote the last four digits of the card and not the whole thing. The rapid dispatch of a cop seems odd to me too.

  79. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @ohiomensch: How come you didn’t press charges? A cousin of mine was in a similar situation-assaulted on suspicion of shoplifting. Turned out to be a misunderstanding, but he pressed charges anyway. Hell, even if he had been shoplifting he could have pressed charges. Sometimes, people need to learn the hard way what acceptable behavior is.

  80. econobiker says:

    There are still gas stations where you DON’T have to prepay???

  81. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: I.e., perceived injustice does not justify taking the law into your own hands. If someone is not immediately threatened or protecting someone from harm, where do they get off hitting someone? They get off at county, if it happens to me

  82. Eels says:

    This happened to my family years ago, when gas was cheap. My dad was out running errands, filled up the car, and then came home. Twenty minutes later the cops show up at our house, blue lights flashing in our driveway. My dad had paid cash, and had no receipt. They ended up having to go through the security tapes to figure out who actually stole the gas. The gas station apologized, and we still go there when they have good prices.

    UDF usually had the cheapest prices around, and I don’t know why you’d stop patronizing them for such a small incident.

    I don’t print out my receipts because they are totally unnecessary. I fill up my tank so seldom that the shock of the price is enough to allow me to remember it until the next time I check my online statement.

  83. Sherryness says:

    Whether at the gas pump or at the bank, when it asks if I want a receipt, I always answer “Yes.” But what I’m thinking when I push the button is, “Yes – I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you.”

  84. icy_one says:

    Subby here, and some clarifications on the comments above:

    It turns out the cop had been at the store parked in the front of the building, but I hadn’t seen him because all the spots were full and he was on the end. That’s also the reason why I didn’t pull away from the pumps just to walk in and walk out.

    I drive a Scion tC, which is not exactly common, and the parlor patrol told the officer the pump and identified my car, I assume while I was at the traffic light.

    I don’t know why she thought I stole the gas, maybe because I paid for a drink with coins instead of a credit card but I am 99% sure they have a computerized system that displays incomplete transactions. She was standing there when the cashier asked if that was all, so if she suspected I was not going to pay, she could have stopped me right then.

    Basically, I’m glad that I had the receipt on me, because otherwise I’d have spent Friday evening at that store or explaining my story on a police report while the officer verified my story with Mastercard. All because the woman in the store was never trained properly.

  85. icy_one says:

    Oh, also…

    I’m a dude. [checks] Yeah, a dude.

  86. bobosgirl says:

    “Mix-ups like that happen sometimes??” You’re kidding, right? Accused of theft, pulled over by the cops, have to sit there while people drive by and watch you be embarressed and interogated by the cops? I would have driven back to the station, showed the receipt to the employee, and gotten the owners contact information. That employee could have seen on her register that the gas was paid for with a card, if she had opened her eyes and looked- it shows up immediately.@TalKeaton:

  87. shufflemoomin says:

    Doesn’t the US have the same security as the UK at petrol/gas stations where automatic numberplate recognition is in use for cars that don’t pay after filling up? Wouldn’t you be on CCTV paying or not paying anyway? Why would a gas station bother sending the cops after you?

  88. coren says:

    @DrGirlfriend: screw potentially having to tip the attendant (see also: Jersey). Gas is spendy enough as it is.

    @icy_one: Called it!

  89. xnihilx says:

    Half the time I get gas the receipt printer is out of paper. How is that supposed to help me?

  90. Petra says:

    That’s strange of the station, I was under the impression that, due to so many fill-and-runs, paying in advance at the pump with your credit card was required. I know mix-ups can happen, but I think Chris has every reason to want to avoid this particular station in the future…being called a thief seems like a good enough reason for me.

  91. digitalgimpus says:

    @InfiniTrent: Your ignoring the key difference.

    The employee was in a position to know that no crime was committed, and had access to information that would tell if one knew if a crime was committed or not.

    *The employee was a gas station attendant. Their job is to know who paid or not.*

    The employee either knew the person didn’t steal, and decided to just have fun and call the police (most likely), or declined to do their job and called the police (which is still reckless).

    Calling the police without legitimate cause for concern is a crime. It’s a false report. The person who called clearly should have been in the know.

    This is clearly a false report because there was no legitimate cause for concern. The clerk failed at their job and made a false report. In a store, security looks at the security tape before calling police because of this.

    Ignorance is *not* an excuse to be above the law. Ignorance is why the law needs to exists.

    It distracts law enforcement from doing their job and wastes precious resources.

    The employee failed… stop making excuses.

  92. Youthier says:

    I’m not sure I get the “humiliation” aspect of being pulled over. I’ve been pulled over plenty of times. A quick poll of my coworkers shows that all have been pulled over at least once – two for crimes not committed. None of us needed therapy afterwards.

    Sometimes, further investigation is needed. The police need to stop you in order to do so. As long as they are reasonable and respectful, I don’t understand what the big deal is about answering some questions.

  93. jedsa says:

    Geez, Ohiomensch, had someone run me off the road, I’d certainly push to have them prosecuted…

  94. stinerman says:


    The receipt printers at the pump don’t work at any of the gas stations I frequent.

  95. breny says:


    I always pump to the nearest $.08 ($30.08, $40.08) so I can just scan gas transactions on my bill and know they’re ok.

  96. ohiomensch says:


    I guess I was young and dumb. Just so glad that he wasn’t some random maniac out to really hurt me. He meant well, really just looking out for his girlfriend, who was someone I went to school with, so I let it go.

  97. scoosdad says:

    @stinerman: If you’re at a Hess station in New England, getting a receipt out of the pump is cause for celebration. Their printers are notorious for being out of supplies or never working. Gas is the cheapest around though. They save all that money on printer supplies I guess.

  98. mcjake says:

    Wait, where can you find a pump that doesn’t require you to prepay these days?

  99. EveMergus says:

    This has happened to me.
    That is how i learned to get a receipt everytime I pump gas.
    I lived on the ‘hillbilly’ island of Kauai in the 50th state of Hawaii back
    in 1997.

    I drove off from a Chevron station in the city of Lihue.
    About 10 minutes later, a blue & white squad car flashed lights and sirens
    and pulled me over.
    The officer told me to either go back and pay (I had already paid with my
    credit card inserted into the slot on the pump) or get arrested by him.
    I told him that I paid.
    It turned out that the pump was faulty, and so the employees was in the
    habit of resetting and overriding the ‘error’ and allowing customers to pump
    gas even tho their CC did not go thru the transaction.
    How would I know that? Especially when the attendant is too lazy to come out
    to tell me that, and went ahead and reset it, making me assume that I am
    able to pump gas because my pump accepted my card.
    So after filling my tank, I drove off, not knowing that I still needed to go
    into the ‘convenience store’ to pay for my ‘override’ gas fill.
    And then the clerk panicked as they saw me drive off, so what do they do?
    Call 911 of course! They don’t want the ‘shortage’ to come out of their
    paycheck! Screwed up!

    I can tell you a lot of other ‘hillbilly’ stories about living on a remote
    island, such as Kauai, but I’ll save it for when you actually experience it,
    and we can share! Aloha!

  100. coren says:

    @digitalgimpus: Uh…what?

    Does it say in the article who, specifically called the cops? “The woman at…” doesn’t, per se, mean the cashier. It seems you’re jumping to a conclusion there. Regardless, just because she doesn’t fully investigate (during which time a potential thief is getting further and further away) doesn’t mean it’s filing a false report. What report got filed?

  101. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Many pumps now ask about the receipt before you pump gas. If you don’t want a receipt, how on earth would the pump know to “close out the transaction”?

    @doctor_cos: I assumed craiggers was talking about pumps where you get it at the end.

  102. thelushie says:

    @icy_one: I apologize for referring to you as the wrong gender in my post.

  103. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Cupajo: You’re not being a jerk if it’s a valid point. They ought to be ‘set up’ to give receipts for pre-pay if only protect themselves. Shouldn’t they be worried about the reverse: someone giving them a 20 dollar bill and then claiming later it was a 50?

    It doesn’t even make sense that they aren’t able to give you a receipt when you pay for gas.

  104. ideagirl says:

    @GMFish: Exact same thing happened to me n the early 90s. It was a small town with only one gas station. As soon as I realized I had forgot to pay, I went right back and asked them if I forgot to pay. They said yes, but they were too embarrassed to let me know because I was a regular customer. They were very grateful that I came back on my own and corrected the mistake.

  105. PriceIsWrong says:

    I once went in and paid for my gas at a station in a small town on my way to college.

    About 5 miles down the road, some lady zips by me and pulls in front of me with her flashers on and gets my attention to pull over.

    As soon as I do she comes screaming at me while I’m in my car that the clerk said I didn’t pay and the police were on the way.

    Then some guy pulls up behind me in a pickup asking what the hell my problem is doing a drive off.

    At this point I had already called the cops on the lady for almost causing an accident by cutting me off. I also managed to show her my receipt and told her off then told the guy it wasn’t me and to deal with it. (I was a pretty pissed off 19yo at that point)

    I went back to the station after I was done with class and started asking the clerk wtf her problem was and she told me, and I quote “I was high this morning, if you want to hit me you can hit me for it.”

    I was stunned at that, went to the local Pizza Place/Liquor store/Strip Club (all places owned by the same guy, even the gas station) and complained to the owner.

    I think she was fired later that week.

    Anyway, keep your receipt. You never know when some tweaker is going to blame you for stealing gas.

  106. HogwartsAlum says:


    The Kum n Go (snicker) where I get gas has a sticker on the pump which says, “If you do not receive a receipt, you must pay inside.” So if putting the pump back closes the transaction, why would this be necessary?

    Just wondering…

  107. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @HogwartsAlum: Wtf? If a receipt doesn’t print you have to go pay as opposed to getting a receipt? They can do that after they show me my credit card hasn’t shown up on their system. Or we can have to police sort it out

  108. jdmba says:

    You also need a receipt if you intend to deduct gas for tax purposes.

    The IRS has long since ruled that a single line on a credit card statement will not be sufficient proof; as that could have been cigarettes rather than gas.

  109. t325 says:

    @theninjasquad: I always pay for my gas with a credit or debit card, but I pay for drinks and other shit inside with cash. I don’t have enough cash for gas, and I’m not going to put an 89-cent soda on my Visa.

  110. bwcbwc says:

    @LionelEHutz: So this is more of an argument to pay enough money to hire a smarter clerk. If it’s a busy time of day and the clerk has someone come in and buy something from the store and then they see them get into a car at a pump and drive off, they might get paranoid and call the cops if their job was on the line due to drive aways. On the other hand, they should be able to check the transaction status of the pump to verify if there’s still an open transaction on the pump before they call the cops. That’s what they have to do anyway when you go in to tell them you want $50 on pump #6.

  111. SayAhh says:

    I was just thinking the other day about printing out gasoline receipts. I used to always print one out, only to shred it later at home. Stated to think that it was kind of wasteful (paper and time) so I started to hit “no” when prompted for receipts…

    …until a lightbulb when off (or rather, on) and I asked myself: how I could prove to American Express that I got overcharged if the gas station machines were ILLEGALLY PROGRAMMED to overcharge (e.g., 1 cent, 10 cents, or 4 dollars) whenever someone hits “no” when prompted for a receipt? Wouldn’t I be out of luck, even if I were to regularly review my statements?

    So now I started to print them out again, and shred them after having reconciled my credit card statement.

  112. nsv says:

    I knew someone who worked at a place with a diesel tank for their fleet, and his personal vehicle was a diesel truck. He showed up one day to be accused of stealing fuel. (Fuel was missing, they were pointing fingers at everyone.) He produced the receipts he kept in his truck and kept his job.

  113. sam-i-am says:

    It’s not your job to arbitrarily be able to show proof of purchase to to a cop – for items purchased at a store, gas, or anything else. If someone wants to accuse you of something, they have to bring proof to the table, end of story.

    If a cop pulled me over and asked me for a gasoline receipt (which I never get because they end up trashing up my car) I’d ask him if he has a warrant and if not, he’s welcome to get one if the gas station has some kind of evidence that you’ve done something wrong.

    Don’t play into a police state.

  114. fearnofish says:

    I am betting the cop was there and the cashier just told him verbally. There is no way they woudl dispatch him and he would get there that quick.

  115. Jabronimus says:

    Stupid bitch tried to scam you!

  116. Not Alvis says:

    Considering the relatively few “you should have just showed your receipt at walmart” comments those Consumerist posts get, and the huge comment smack-downs that follow them, I’m quite surprised at the reaction to this incident.

    Those sort of posts have stood on the “the retailer needs proof of you taking an item, not paying for it, and leaving the store with it before they can legitimately contact the police” factor. Once you pay, receipt or not, the item is yours, and it’s the retailer’s responsibility to prove otherwise.

    What bothers me about this is that, lacking store security personel, they were able to contact the police to perform the same role. Small inconvenience or not, your rights were violated, but I’m not sure whom to point the finger at.

    Either the employee accused you of a crime without just cause, or the police officer pulled you over for no good reason. Even if neither of them was aware of the requirements to make such an accusation, how many times do we hear that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”?

  117. dragonvpm says:

    @IfThenElvis: Heh, beer runs are a completely different matter though, those seem to be getting worse.

    WRT the article in general, I wonder why they don’t make the machines automatically print the receipt if it’s that critical. I know I’ve often seen the printers at pumps be out of paper/order and I’m instructed to go inside if I want a receipt so clearly the station in question has access to that information.

    Heck, I usually fill up at Sam’s or Costco and I need to swipe my membership card and my form of payment before I can pump anything so I really don’t need a receipt to prove that I paid.

  118. jkpwife says:

    Same thing happened to my husband and he didn’t even buy gas. We live right down the road from this small station and the cops came to the house about 30 minutes after my husband left the store. He had bought some ice cream. He had parked close to the pumps because the parking lot was full. He told the cops he didn’t buy gas but the cop made him go back to the store anyways. When they walked into the store the lady behind the counter said “That’s not him”. She did not bother to say “Sorry”. The cop was very sorry for what happened and he seemed a little pissed off. Strange because the lady behind the counter had to have given our license number to the cops. Don’t know what she was smoking that day.

  119. HogwartsAlum says:


    I’m thinking maybe it means that if it doesn’t print, the transaction did not complete. Or that they want you to come in so they can verify that it did. I don’t know. I think I’ll ask the nice lady that works in there the next time I go in.

  120. trujunglist says:

    Here’s a good scam:

    Get a semi-real looking police cruiser and hang out at a gas station. Pull people over as they drive away. Tell them they didn’t pay. They’ll offer the receipt; you’ll ask to verify their information. Take their credit card and drivers license, write down all of the information, and apologize for the mistake. Send them on their way, then go home and get online for some serious credit card fraud.

  121. Difdi says:


    Hooray for Oregon, where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas! Screw receipts, man.

    Technically, the Oregon law doesn’t require that a station attendant pump the gas. What it actually does is classify gasoline as a hazardous material, and require a license to handle it.

    In theory, if you had such a license, you could display it to the attendant and pump your own gas. But unless there were too many customers, too few attendants, and you were in a big hurry, it’d probably be easier to just let the attendant do it.

  122. Ninjanice says:

    It could have been a simple human error on the part of the cashier and not malicious at all. I say this because I worked at a gas station when I started college and accidentally reported someone who had paid for his gas as a drive-off. The problem was that he had told me the wrong pump number when he paid for his gas. So, when I saw him drive off I thought he hadn’t paid. The other driver was gone and didn’t pay for gas. The guy that I reported had to come back to the store so I could ID him. When I saw him, I knew that he had paid. I was embarassed and apologized profusely. The guy actually found it funny and started coming in regularly after the incident.

  123. TPK says:

    I’m definitely in the “don’t show your receipts just because they ask” corner. This situation is the same as wal-mart, but even worse, since they bring law enforcement into the picture.

    It happened to me several years ago, and in a state of mental unpreparedness, I went out to my car (they came to my house about 10 minutes after I got home) and showed the officer my receipt. The dispatcher, apparently in a state of disbelief, had the officer check the date and time on the receipt as well, as if I was trying to pull some sort of a bait and switch scam!

    Then and there, I resolved that if it ever happened again, things would play out differently.

    Just as with wal-mart, the gas is mine, free and clear, once that credit card transaction goes through. You better not come accusing me of theft unless you have proof.

    I would take that ride down to the station, and confront the clerk. Demand proof of this fabricated crime. As soon as it was established that they were making unfounded accusations, you better believe I would be asking that officer what options I had for pressing charges right then and there.

  124. baristabrawl says:

    I am from a small town and they still let people pay AFTER they pump. Um, stupid. They say it’s a form of respect and trust. No, it’s a form of covering your ass to make people pre-pay.

    I always get a receipt, even if I have to go in, JUST because this might happen to me.

  125. Indecent says:


    There are still plenty of pumps in the last two states I’ve lived in (Illinois and Ohio) that do not require you to pay first or swipe a card in order to pump.

  126. mzs says:

    @msmith6044: plates