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!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.
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.
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"