A single-income family has been left without a car to get to work or school after a bungle by a petrol station saw their petrol car filled with diesel.
Mum-of-three Sarah Campbell’s car spluttered to a halt early on Tuesday morning not long after putting $50 of what she thought was 91 unleaded petrol in her car at the Papatoetoe Caltex station.
At the time she didn’t know what the problem was, only that it meant her kids weren’t going to school and her husband wouldn’t be able to get to work.
It turns out those filling their cars with 91 unleaded or diesel at the petrol station between 7.30pm on Monday August 8 and 9:20am the following day had instead been pumping a mix of the two.
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The station’s manager, Harbinder Singh, said a fuel tanker driver had accidentally swapped diesel and 91 unleaded when he was filling up the station’s storage tanks.
Neither he nor Z Energy, which runs Caltex, were sure how many people had been affected, but those whose cars had stopped immediately had been helped by staff.
Singh said it was an honest mistake by the tanker driver and the company was paying for costs incurred by those affected.
“We are all human, we can all make mistakes.”
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The man tasked with helping the cars that stopped on the station’s forecourt, Terry Walsh from Suckie Moto, said it cost about $400 to get each car running again.
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He said the cars would need to have all the contaminated fuel pumped out and their engines flushed before they would run again.
So far he was aware of five cars that had been affected. Three stalled at the station, while two managed to make it some distance before trouble arose.
Campbell’s car was one, while the other made it out to Auckland Airport where the owner discovered the problem when he tried to drive home after his work shift.
For Campbell, the issue meant tightening the purse strings as her husband had to miss two days of work already, which was already tough.
“Not all of us have the luxury of having two cars or having family to help,” she said.
The Ōtara family also had an hour-long walk home after the car broke down.
A Z Energy spokesperson said they were trying to find how many people might have been impacted and had put signs up to notify customers.
She encouraged any customer who refuelled with the contaminated petrol during the 13-hour period and experienced problems with their vehicle to contact the Caltex Helpline on 0800 733 835.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers and are currently investigating what led to this crossmix given our focus on safety and the procedures in place designed to prevent this situation occurring.”
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