Friday, September 28, 2007

TOTAL... itarian

Below is a letter that has appeared on the internal Eurocrat letters forum. (My translation). In a follow up it is suggested that Shell is running a similar scheme.

On the way for Antwerp this Sunday morning, we stopped to fill the tank at the Total station in Kontich. Our vehicle is registered in the United Kingdom and inspires confidence. To our great amazement, we are forced to pay upfront, before taking the petrol, When we questioned this procedure and its inbuilt suspicion of us as customers the employee, (who was the only one there) told us that our "number plate" is not recognized by the "system". He explained to us that all cars stopping to fill up are filmed and that their number plates are immediately sent the central control and information processing unit of Total which has the files of all registration numbers in Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Holland. If the car is not registered in one of these 5 countries or is not included in one of the 5 files, one must pay upfront. Therefore, a multinational (TOTAL) has information to which in theory, (obviously in theory), the national police force has access to!
Do we now have to regard the multinational TOTAL as an auxiliary service of these 5 National police forces? He could not answer a question about stolen vehicles or those driven for other reasons. One would suppose that if you turned up in a stolen vehicle from one of these 5 countries, you will be able to fill up your tank and to leave without paying. And without being worried, since this is the only possible argument in favour of this anti-theft system: indeed, in Belgium, the courts no longer chase customers who do not pay!
Overall, this situation is unacceptable and it would be interesting to see where else this is happening and to discover the true reasons of these "Big Brother" controls.
If this is true it is extremely concerning. As the correspondent points out, if the system is set up to stop theft from petrol pumps it will only stop theft from cars outwith the five countries. If a stolen car uses the pump and drives off there is nothing that the system can do to block it. Unless...unless the system run by Total, and maybe other oil companies has access to the central police computers.
And if they have access to the central police computers that has to be in breach of all sorts of data protection provisions. And if not why would a big oil company spend all that money setting up such as system that had such a fundamental flaw?

I think we should be told.

One word in the letter I found I could in no way directly translate.
"Anti-grivèlerie". This word I discover seems to mean, "a system set up to stop people from taking a service and leaving without paying", such as a restaurant or in this case a petrol station, so with a broader remit than the English 'shoplifting'. I suppose the practise must be common in France, which is why they have a word for it. As in the case of 'schadenfreude' the enjoyment of another's discomfort in Germany.
Thus I propose, seeing as the French have a word for a concept that we lack, and as English is a magpie language, that we co-opt this word. Maybe we should anglicise it first, thus;
Grivel: Verb, "To appropriate goods or services without the intention of paying for them" (French root: grivèler : réaliser des profits illicites ou consommer sans être en mesure de payer)
Example, "Of course we have the money for lunch darling, I grivelled the hotel this morning"


sandyrham said...

And thus the first grivel in English was itself a grivel from French, neat

Elaib said...

What payment would be required for the theft of a word?


This is already widespread,earlier this year , i was told by the foreigner in the Reading services that i could not have any petrol until i had deposited my credit card with said foreigner, who would then allow me to fill up.these immigrants certainly have a wonderful sense of humour,which suddenly evaporated when i told her to stuff it where the sun dont shine.

eulogist said...

Sounds like hoax to me, precisely because it would mean so many laws are broken. Remember the fuzz about SWIFT?

Plate recognition systems do exist - the Land of the Free is a large producer apparently. But it seems very unlikely that such a system would be connected to the police database. There is no need: The company could simply pass on the license plate number of the drive-off (yes, the phenomenon does have a name in English) offender to the police. The company does not even need a license plate recognition system to do this: video pictures would do the trick as well, and are probably more convincing in Court.

Elaib said...

Not a hoax from what I understand, but not sure of the precise details. The how why and wherefores. 'Drive off' I will admit to never having heard of it. My guess was that it's to do golf, some late afternoon competition from the 18th tee.

But I see that there are other meanings,
"drive off - force to go away; used both with concrete and metaphoric meanings; "Drive away potential burglars"; "drive away bad thoughts"; "dispel doubts"; "The supermarket had to turn back many disappointed customers"
chase away, dispel, drive away, drive out, run off, turn back
frighten - drive out by frightening
move, displace - cause to move or shift into a new position or place, both in a concrete and in an abstract sense; "Move those boxes into the corner, please"; "I'm moving my money to another bank"; "The director moved more responsibilities onto his new assistant"
fire - drive out or away by or as if by fire; "The soldiers were fired"; "Surrender fires the cold skepticism"
clear the air - dispel differences or negative emotions; "The group called a meeting to finally clear the air"
banish - drive away; "banish bad thoughts"; "banish gloom"
shoo, shoo away, shoo off - drive away by crying `shoo!'
drive out, rouse, rout out, force out - force or drive out; "The police routed them out of bed at 2 A.M."

None of which has the finesse of grivel. It would be like describing 'defenestrate as a 'chuck-out'.