Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Between Petronas and Shell
I hold a Visa Debit Card. For those of you who may not be aware about it, the difference between a Credit Card and a Debit Card is that, for a Credit Card, you use the bank's money to purchase something. That means the bank pays for the items that you purchase and you pay back to the bank after it sent you a statement showing the amount that you have spent using the bank's Credit Card. If you delay in paying back to the bank, you will be charged interest on it.
For a Debit Card, the bank pays for your transaction from your bank account. You use the Debit Card on the strength of your own bank account. Therefore, you need to have some money in your bank account before you can use the Debit Card to purchase something. What you spend should not exceed the balance available in your bank account.
So a person with a Credit Card may only have thirty sen (RM0.30) left in his bank account, but with his Credit Card he can purchase any amount he likes, provided it does not exceed his authorised limit. However, a person, who holds a Debit Card with only thirty sen left in his bank account, can only spend not more than thirty sen. So, a person with a Debit Card has to top up his account with sufficient fund all the time to enable him to use the Debit Card to purchase something.
Having said all that, you might wonder what the two types of card had to do with Petronas and Shell? Well, let me narrate to you my experience about using the Debit Card to purchase fuel for my car at Petronas and Shell.
You see, I never have any problem using my Debit Card to purchase petrol from Shell. It's just like purchasing at Giant or Carrefour, easy, within seconds after the cashier swiped the card, the receipts were printed out for signature verification. But I always have problems when using the Card to purchase petrol from Petronas. Most of the times, my card would not be accepted. Mind you there was always sufficient funds available in my bank account.
However, during one of those very few trying times when my Card was finally accepted by the few Petronas stations, it was a "fill first, pay later" kind of transaction - I had to go back to the pump to fill the petrol and then went back to the cashier to sign the receipt chit and to get back my Card. Not that I mind having to walk to the pump and back again (it's a good exercise for me, right?) but let me ask you, do you think that this is the kind of service that you should provide to your customers if you are running a petrol kiosk? I could not remember any single instance when purchasing petrol from Petronas, where the "pay first, fill later" principle was applied. But with Shell, it was applied successfully, which provides more convenience to customers. Funny, isn't it?. Sometime when I am in a hurry, I just use cash to pay for my petrol at Petronas.
Last Sunday, I was at Bangi. After sending my son, Jowin to his hostel at UKM, on the way back I stopped by a Petronas station to fill petrol for my Pesona. I only had a few dollars left in my wallet and therefore gave my Debit Card to the cashier to pay for RM60.00 of petrol. I was prepared to walk back and forth, but as expected, my Debit Card was not accepted. To worsen the matter both the Maybank ATM's did not accept my CIMB ATM Card. Most probably, that day being a Sunday, the machines had run out of cash.
The cashier said that the nearest CIMB ATM would be at Bintang shopping complex. I didn't know whether I heard wrongly or misunderstood him, but it was a long drive before I could finally find the Bintang Complex. After withdrawing some cash from the ATM, I finally made my way back to the same Petronas station. Why the same station, you might ask? The reason is that there was no other fuel stations nearby, you see.
Just as the Pesona reached the Petronas station, I heard the call for prayer ("azan") for "asar" distinctly from a nearby mosque - indeed, as the "azan" said "God is Great". So you see, buying petrol from Petronas using your Debit Card is indeed like a challenge ("dugaan') from the AlMighty.
I don't know what seems to be the problem that the service at Petronas differs from that at Shell when it comes to using the Debit Card. Whereas it's easy to use the card at Shell, it's the opposite case with Petronas. Is it because Petronas recognises the Credit Card more than the Debit Card? Or is it because
the communication line in Petronas is less efficient? Whatever the problem is with Petronas, they better sort it out as soon as possible before they lose more customers to Shell, Esso or Caltex.
As for me, whatever poor service that Petronas provides, I still go to Petronas to fill up petrol for my car. You know why? Because Petronas is a Malaysian company and as a Malaysian I am proud of it and therefore will always support it. Furthermore, Shell belongs to Holland and I don't like Holland after one of her citizens gave the wrong impression about my beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when he painted the Prophet's (PBUH) picture a few years' back. I've also stopped buying any item from the supermarket that bears the "Made in Holland" sign.
A close friend once asked me why I didn't use the Credit Card instead? I told him Islam has forbidden usury ("riba") in any transaction. The company that sells an item, which is paid through a Credit Card, has to pay interest to the bank. The purchaser using the Credit Card has to pay interest if he delays in paying to the bank. Whether a person pays interest or charges interest, both are forbidden in Islam, as per the following "hadith":
"It was related that Jabir said,"The Messenger of God (Prayers and Peace Be Upon Him) cursed the one who devours usury and the one who pays it, and the one who writes it down and the two witnesses to it." And he said,"They are all equal."