back to article Automated payment machines do NOT work the same all over the world – as I found out

Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano. This would be easier if I'd been armed with a proper phrase book rather than a single page of everyday expressions at the back of my tourist guide. And it would be more effective if I was trying to communicate with a human. I am, of course, talking to a machine. No one else is around, which …

  1. Joe Werner

    Same experience...

    ... except it was in the third part of Gallia, where the bravest men live (as J.G.C. wrote more than MM years ago).

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: Same experience...

      You also freed a fat kid from a cycle gate and played a banjo / bagpipe duet? Wow . . hell of a coincidence :-)

  2. smudge Silver badge

    English?

    He has noticed a marked difference in how he is treated in foreign climes depending upon whether the person he is trying to communicate with believes him to be English or American. As soon as he admits to being English, he can see the sparkle in the other fellow's eyes fade into one of sympathy.

    I believe it. I see people's faces light up with happiness when I answer "English?" with "No, Scottish!".

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: English?

      I have also observed this phenomenom although it may be that the owners of the local watering holes are familiar with the drinking habits of Scots in hot weather and anticipating full coffers.

      1. PPK

        Re: English?

        In Japan, once you answer their question 'Are you American?' with 'No, English', the welcome gets noticeably warmer. Have met a number of Anglophiles there, one gent (all in tweed) was a 'hair designer' by trade, and a massive Beatles fan apparently.

        Given the behaviour I witnessed of an off-duty Marine in a bar in Nagoya, I can't say I'm surprised at this reaction - I don't think you could have gotten closer to the stereotype of loud, arrogant, boastful, slightly drunk colonial cousin tourist if you tried.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: English?

          My eldest is now in Tokyo doing a year’s exchange. Absolutely loves being there: non-existent crime, flawless transport and everything actually works!

          1. Bavaria Blu

            Re: English?

            Sounds like Bavaria!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: English?

            The time to go visit Tokyo is now as it's fast filling up with tourists and i predict it will not be the utopia of safety and consideration in 5 to 10 years. Already you see/hear brash tourists yabbering on their phones and loudly doing FaceTime in public. Next there'll be pickpockets and you'll have to start leaving valuables in the hotel safe!

    2. A. Coatsworth
      Happy

      Re: English?

      Being neither, but having learned American English, I have been usually for an American tourist more than once in Europe. It is really interesting how the people's attitude changes when I'm done explaining where the little backwater country I'm from is actually located .

      In France (or more specifically in Paris) it seems it is better to try and communicate in Spanish rather than English, even if the interlocutor speaks neither... that way I have sidestepped their proverbial disdain of tourists.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: English?

        We experienced almost the opposite in Andorra once. Shop assistants kept turning their noses up whenever Mme D spoke to them in French, so she tried Spanish, and even Catalan, to no avail. It was only when I spoke up in English that they fell over themselves to serve us. They must assume all French and Spaniards are local cheapskates on a weekend outing but someone speaking in English must be a tourist with cash to spend.

        1. Ken 16 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: English?

          My wife is Quebecois/Spanish and fluently trilingual but when in France people always assume she's Belgian - she blames me as the French always assume I'm German. In Germany they assume the same.

          My coats the one with the EU passport in it.

      2. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: English?

        "In France (or more specifically in Paris) it seems it is better to try and communicate in Spanish rather than English..."

        Have you tried speaking French like a vache espagnole instead?

        1. A. Coatsworth

          Re: English?

          @Dr_N

          Nope... my French doesn't work for much more than "Ye ne pagh-lé pa Francé"

          1. Dr_N Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: English?

            By George, I think he's got it!

          2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

            Re: English?

            And did Cthulu arrive to destroy Paris?

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: English?

              And did Cthulu arrive to destroy Paris?

              Sadly, no. But Nyarlethotep did go to persue their mask shops..

      3. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: English?

        that way I have sidestepped their proverbial disdain of tourists.

        Parisians disdain anything not from Paris, logically, because they get served so much shit in the rest of France (two exceptions I know of, Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence - might be others).

        Parisians usually think Paris is France, the rest is just peasant-land ... this, of course, infuriates the rest of France. Anything south of Grenoble - Brive la Gaillarde-line (except Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence) thinks anything above that line is Northern France, or southern Belgium (as I like to call it).

        As for automated petrol stations in France, a bloody nightmare, though when you choose English, most of the ui is in English.

        <joke>I personally think Brits and Parisians have one thing in common, unearned arrogance.</joke>

        1. jh27

          Re: English?

          > Parisians disdain anything not from Paris, logically, because they get served so much shit in the rest of France (two exceptions I know of, Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence - might be others).

          > Parisians usually think Paris is France, the rest is just peasant-land ... this, of course, infuriates the rest of France.

          So basically, the same as Londoners?

    3. Diogenes

      Re: English?

      Even better, "American ?" "No" . "Ah English?" "No Australian!" Always met with big smile and ^ah kangaroi"

      1. StephenH

        Re: English?

        "^ah kangaroi" is always accompanied by placing hands side by side at chest height

    4. 404 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: English?

      Answering 'Tennessean' in a comforting Southern Drawl, in my experience, has shown to totally fuck up citizens of other countries... Never give them what they expect and don't be a dick about it, always gracious. Ain't my country, different rules.

      Only time that has failed was in Bremerhaven, when I ran across a German Scooter Gang, similar to American Biker Gangs, leather, chains, tatts, attitude, but with 80-cc scooters. I_could_not_stop_laughing and they didn't take kindly. Polizei saved my ass that day lmfao...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: English?

      I get the same reaction saying "No, Irish" - I think it's the first word that causes their joy, not the second.

  3. Forget It
    Facepalm

    Sometimes it pays to add a leading zero.

    Italian PINs are generally 5 digits not 4.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Five digits? My luggage locks only have three digits, so how am I to remember a five digit PIN?

      1. 9Rune5

        Easy. Use two zeros.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Just pick something easy like 12345.

        You can't use that one though, that's my PIN.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          what do you mean he can't use your PIN?! HALF THE WORLD uses this pin! (and the other half 54321). And the rest?! Well, I suppose they add 0, before or after). This means, that whenever you enter ANY pin - it works!

        2. Chloe Cresswell

          I've got the same combination on my luggage!

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      A leading zero? Wow! Never thought of that.

      I visit Italy often and I speak the language, but I do not live there. Nor have I got an Italian credit card. As for Italian petrol stations, I can confirm that normally you fill up, go into the store, and pay at the till. Unless...

      One very late night some years ago I was driving along a strada statale with an Italian friend of mine as a passenger, and I was low on petrol. The next distributore ("petrol station" in inglese) down the road was dark and deserted, but I figured I would manage to swipe my card and fill up. The machine asked for a PIN which I dutifully punched in only to see that there was a 5th position and a cursor blinking. Pressing "OK" (or "Continue" or whatever the green button said) didn't work, and I could not find any way to make the machine accept my woefully inadequate 4-digit PIN. Exasperated, I turned to my friend and asked, "Do you really have 5-digit PIN codes for you credit cards?" With a confused look on her face, the widely traveled university professor responded, "I wouldn't know. I haven't got a credit card."

      The solution was to feed the machine some cash, of course. Trying to prepend the PIN with a zero never occurred to me.

      Thank you for the useful tip for my future trips. I won't Forget It.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: A leading zero? Wow! Never thought of that.

        In the north you have the Telepass system for petrol, parking and autostrada. Can’t speak for the rest of the country as I do not really go further south than Firenze.

  4. herman Silver badge

    The petrol pump payments are easy if you can get to the pump at all. Italian toll gates look like they were designed by a bored doodle drawing artist. You have to pick a lane to some place, then do a figure eight Le Mans to get to a universal, multi lane toll gate, then go out again in another figure 8 Le Mans and in there somewhere in the crazy spaghetti maze is a petrol station that you cannot get to, since you are now going to Piza or Pamplona and the petrol pump is only available if you go to Venice.

    1. AndyS

      Once, while driving on a motorway in Eastern Europe, early in the morning on a Sunday, we came across a toll with no cash lane. Pre-paid smart card access only, and no staff. Having just been through Italy, we did the usual figure-of-eight-U-turn-somersault maneuver to try and get off the motorway. Our travelling companions, however, used a less subtle maneuver which involved reversing, quite hard, into the pole with the number plate recognition camera on it. Which promptly fell over.

      Nothing ever came of it, luckily. From empirical evidence, therefore, it appears the easiest way to get out of paying motorway tolls is simply to smash the cameras. Italy sounds like the right country to test this hypothesis.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      @herman.

      It's worse than that. Pisa may be out of your way but Pamplona is in Northern Spain, something of a problem if you need petrol.

    3. Dave K Silver badge

      I had a different issue entirely at a filling station in Italy. Pulled up at the pump in my hire car, before realising that I had absolutely no idea how to open the filler cap - and of course no manual for the car in the glove box. I looked all over the dash, the centre console, nope - nothing. Meanwhile, the filling station attendant becomes increasingly irate. After a trip around the block (to avoid the shouting) and back to the filling station, I finally found the button - passenger side, on the floor - such that it's only visible when the passenger door is open. Bravo Toyota!

      1. Andrew Newstead

        Puts it on the correct side for Japanese (and Brit, and Aus...) drivers.

        1. Dave K Silver badge

          But why on the floor anyway? I've had several cars with a clear button on the centre console, or cars where you just flip open the filler cap (it locks automatically when you lock the car). That's fine. But a button on the floor? C'mon!

      2. GlenP Silver badge

        Had exactly the same problem this week in a hired Honda. Finally found the release after I'd gone to the office to unload (for the record, under the dash just in front of the driver's door).

        1. RubberJohnny

          The petrol pump card payments are not all the same even within the UK

      3. Strahd Ivarius
        Devil

        How did you manage to drive the car while sitting on the right seat ?

        The fact that the wheel was on the left side (as well as the button for opening the filler cap) should have been a reminder that you were on the Continent, not in England...

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Bravo Toyota!"

        There's yer problem. Fiat make the Bravo!

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Fiat make the Bravo!

          And it's smaller cousin the Bravatini..

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            ". That's fine. But a button on the floor? C'mon!"

            thats where it is in my 28 yr old Toyota . on floor next to boot flippy thingy

    4. BAFU

      Or you could do what most I do when I'm in Italia: zip through the Telepass lane and consequences be damned.

      Top tip: they'll eventually tie it back to the rental car you were in and then the car company will try to charge you. Just remember to cancel the credit card you used for the rental and get another one with a different number and voila: free autostrada tolls. Comes in handy for speeding tickets too. Rental car companies will try to charge the card they have on file but it's no longer valid.

      So sorry non posso pagare...cazzi vostri!

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Just remember to cancel the credit card you used for the rental and get another one with a different number and voila: free autostrada tolls. Comes in handy for speeding tickets too. Rental car companies will try to charge the card they have on file but it's no longer valid.

        Now I know why we cannot have nice things ... This behavior will just cause rental companies to up their prices for foreigners, all because of total cunts like you!

        I do hope they use that photocopy of your passport/license they took as you picked up the car and charge you 5 or 10 fold.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Similar Experience

    WhenI first cam to Spain, I tried using a card in a gas/petrol station. The choices of language were the usual major European ones that immediately reverted to Spanish.

    What was really great though was that although you could insert a card, the payment systems had all been disabled, the sign telling you that was in the garage toilet in a filing cabinet with a beware of the leopard sign on the door.

    It took me a week to realise this was a region wide phenomenon a a trail of disgruntled service station staff.

    Was the reason for the Sicily trip a visit to Il Capo del Regstrare?

    Hope it went well, I hate that horses head in the bed thing, it makes the sheets all soggy.

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Similar Experience

      I may be out a limb here but I find the (usually redundant) attendent service in Spain a lifesaver.

      Having picked up some random hire vehicle, having deciphered the correct sequence of pedal shifting to get it started and not yet panicking how to get the windscreen wipers on the front or back to wipe feverously or occasionally - then driving into a filling station with no idea which side, yet how to open the petrol filler - one can relax. Just push a 50 euro note to the attendent. They may not have a doctorate in hydro-carbon chemistry but they sure know how to get a nozzle into any petrol tank known to humanity.

      Job done. Who needs technology?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Similar Experience

      I have to say that travelling on French toll motorways is a pleasant experience. Reasonable tolls, not overloaded with roadsigns, cards accepted by machines without crazy mad crashing UIs, clean bathrooms with baby changing facilities, shops and vending machines which cover practically all food and drink requirements on your trip, picnic areas, bins which are a) available and b) actually emptied.

      Then you cross the Pyrenees, and are charged three times as much in tolls for all the same things but with the word not in front of them.

      I can complain like the best of the locals.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Similar Experience

        have to say that travelling on French toll motorways is a pleasant experience.

        As long as you avoid summer weekends. Pick a saturday in July or August and all you'll hear on the radio is "total traffic jams now 500km (600km, 700km...as the day goes on). North-South journey times double, or worse when there's an accident.

        Sundays in sping or autumn are great, although not so much fun now that the police have radar guns. It used to be possible to lock the cruise control at 160km/h when you left Calais and barely touch it again until you got to Lyon.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Similar Experience

        baby changing facilities

        Out of curiosity, what did you change it for? A nice new car? A goat?

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Similar Experience

          I drove across France once to get to the Alps - great lane discipline they have on their 2 lanes , compared to us on our 3

  6. M_W

    Similar experience in the USA

    Where I landed in Orlando late on Christmas Eve and after a long drive wanted to fill up my rental car prior to Christmas Day - but knowing the automatic pumps are notoriously horrific (they require your ZIP code which us brits don't of course have - and 90210 doesn't work as it doesn't match your CC) I drove around until I found a 7-11 gas station that was manned. Except they don't trust the americans not to drive off after filling up without paying, so if you're paying cash, you have to pre-pay the teller a guessed amount first (he said $40) and I filled up ($35) so he gave me the change afterwards.

    Apparently I learned afterwards that some gas stations let you either use 00000 or the digits from your postcode padded with zeros - so if you're E17 8RG for example, you would enter 000178. I didn't try it so YMMV of course.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Similar experience in the USA

      US petrol stations are the devil incarnate.

      My first trip to the states and my mate went to prepay (we had a big SUV and the woman behind the till laughed her head off when my mate said "Erm...80 dollars?" whilst replying "No hun...45 should more than cover it"

      Only for him to have to go back in and do the same again after I managed to put in a bout 20c worth!

      All manner of levers and stuff on the pump!

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Similar experience in the USA

        > US petrol stations are the devil incarnate.

        Have you run into the ones with the foreskins? These are things meant to stop the gas vapors from killing us all, but end up causing half the gas to go on the ground instead of in the vehicle.

        They're especially evil if you have a motorcycle.

        Google "vapor recovery nozzle" I think...

        > 80 dollars

        Sigh. My friend's new F-150 takes about $140 to fill up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Similar experience in the USA

          My A6 costs around 150 USD (equivalent) to fill up.

          Americans should stop their complaining about high fuel prices :p

        2. Cpt Blue Bear

          Re: Similar experience in the USA

          "They're especially evil if you have a motorcycle."

          They're a bugger when you don't know they even exist. Last time I filled a bike in the US the "attendant" had a old towel with a hole cut in it for the filler that he put over the tank before even lifting the filler. That was somewhere in south east LA below the foothills where the locals speak a patois of english and spanish (something I thought was a movie cliche until then).

          1. kain preacher Silver badge

            Re: Similar experience in the USA

            Cpt Blue Bear

            Are you sure that as not patois. That part of the world does have a recognized Spanish dialect. And then there is Spanglish. Not really English not really Spanish.

        3. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Similar experience in the USA

          These are things meant to stop the gas vapors from killing us all...

          Specifically they're meant to reduce photochemical smog, which created the thick brown haze LA used to be famous for. Vapor recovery systems on cars probably made the largest difference; I have to think the amount lost while pumping is probably relatively small.

    2. AndyS

      Re: Similar experience in the USA

      I had exactly the same experience while driving around the slums around LAX, trying desperately to refill my hire car before return.

      Add in the meth-addicted "attendants" who are desperate to make the pump work (to get a "tip"), and are suitably reluctant to return your credit card until they get a cut. And the total lack of comprehension that there might be a place in the world that doesn't have Zip codes. And doesn't spend dollars. It really is a hell-hole of a country for visitors.

      Still, they've found plenty of ways to make it worse since then. They hadn't even considered locking unnamed kids in cages in a desert concentration camp at that stage.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Similar experience in the USA

        My experience of the USA is, along with much of the world, to keep your credit card for the hotels and tourist shops.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Similar experience in the USA

        Don’t worry, soon after Brexit we’ll all have a US zip code. :(

      3. Orv Silver badge

        Californian, can confirm that the area around LAX is inexplicably free of gas stations. You'd think some enterprising person would have put one near the car return, with a substantial markup of course.

        1. BAFU

          There are loads of them both north and south of LAX. Can't imagine why you can't find them. They're even on Century Blvd which is the main road from the 405 to LAX. And yes they all have nice markups. Top tip: find the ARCO branded stations, they normally have the best prices.

      4. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Similar experience in the USA

        They hadn't even considered locking unnamed kids in cages in a desert concentration camp at that stage.

        Probably Privatised Camps - They also charge a hefty fee if you suddenly want your kid back. Compensation for loss of expected profit, probably. Like what would happen under TTIP rules.

    3. juice Bronze badge

      Re: Similar experience in the USA (and France!)

      My first ever attempt at a solo European road trip involved disembarking from the ferry at Calais and bumbling out onto the autoroutes around 3am in the morning. After an hour or so, I pulled over at a petrol station, only to discover that the pumps weren't working.

      After some comedic attempts to communicate with the staff, it turned out that they would only supply fuel if you prepaid at the till - presumably, they get a lot of people driving off without paying in the wee hours of the morning.

      I had been hoping to fill the tank to the brim, but had to settle for choosing a "safe" amount that I could pay by card, and which would get me a reasonable distance - I'd literally just bought the car a week or so earlier, so hadn't yet got a comfortable grasp on how accurate the fuel-tank gauge and MPG calculations were...

    4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Windows

      Breakdown of trust-based society in Europe too

      Except they don't trust the americans not to drive off after filling up without paying, so if you're paying cash, you have to pre-pay the teller a guessed amount first (he said $40) and I filled up ($35) so he gave me the change afterwards.

      Enjoy your European diversity initiatives because this kind of complete bollocks is appearing there too. I was quite surprised that german stations near the border to BE/NL demand that you pay up-front before they switch on the pump.

      Deplorable.jpg

    5. Calum Morrison

      Re: Similar experience in the USA

      A very kindly subway station attendant gave me that same Zip code advice in NYC; you can get a week's travel for around $30 and using 99999 as your zip allows you to pay on card. Handy.

      1. RubberJohnny

        Re: Similar experience in the USA

        Green pump nozzle in UK- Unleaded.

        Green pump nozzle in Florida - Diesel

  7. Rich 11 Silver badge
    Joke

    *shrug*

    the app that once directed me to walk through the centre of an unlit Hyde Park at 2am

    And what's wrong with that? I don't see a problem here. Well, not if you're a predator like me.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: *shrug*

      Walking a mate's dog one night the thought crossed my mind that cutting across the park near his place might not be the smartest move. Then I thought: I'm a big lad wearing a motorcycle jacket, a black beanie and walking a big, black dog. The scariest looking pedestrians out tonight are probably us.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: *shrug*

        I'm a big lad wearing a motorcycle jacket, a black beanie and walking a big, black dog

        Won't stop the crackheads - when I was at college we had a bloke on our course on secondment from the Army. About 6 foot 6, build like the proverbial. And, being a biker, while he was at college he took the opportunity to grow a full biker-har-and-beard set.

        One night he was walking through an underpass, walking back to campus to pick up his motorbike. This skinny bloke jumps out in front of him demanding money because "I've got a knife and will cut you".

        Our mate tried to dissuade him but the skinny bloke kept insisting. So our mate clobbered him with the bike helmet he was carring (battered old open-face so already pre-disastered) and laid him out. He then carried him to the nearest cop shop and dropped him off. The police found that the guy was covered with needle tracks and did have a knife..

        Had he been sane there would have been no way in hell he would have challeneged our mate but needs must when the devil^Wdrugs drive..

  8. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "This is, after all, the app that once directed me to walk through the centre of an unlit Hyde Park at 2am and whose audio inexplicably but routinely barks "Turn left!" when you're supposed to turn right"

    Technically it's not wrong. Turn left 3 times and you're heading in the correct direction.

    1. juice Bronze badge

      Might be the compass

      I've discovered that the one on my phone (and the one before it - LG and Samsung, respectively) has a nasty tendency to point 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

      Thankfully, you can fix this by rotating the phone around all three axis - and at the weekend, Android did pop up a warning that the blue-dot accuracy was pants. But it's still caught me out a couple of times...

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Might be the compass

        Sounds like your phone is upside down? Are you in Australia?

        1. juice Bronze badge

          Re: Might be the compass

          > Sounds like your phone is upside down? Are you in Australia?

          Everything does go a bit topsy-turvey after a few pints, it must be said...

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Might be the compass

        Can't make those "point it at the stars to see their names" apps work on my Moto G for similar reasons, I think. GPS on or GPS off, "calibrated" by tumbling or not, the compass just doesn't seem consistent.

        Playing with my micro:bit recently, I simply can't get the compass to work in any kind of consistent manner. Even after "draw a circle to calibrate". Apparently it's a 3-axis unit, but I'm blowed if I can work out which axis I'm supposed to hold it, moving it some ways it seems ok for about a third of a rotation, then suddenly flips, moving it other ways gives seemingly random results, and the compass function only returns a 0-359 degree value so maybe it's doing some kind of pointless averaging.

        Anybody with any clues?

        M.

        1. Cpt Blue Bear

          Re: Might be the compass

          I've had one and seen several that went spastic* at some point. There is (or was) a thing on the store called GPS Tools that can force a recalibration. All worked perfectly after that.

          * Before anyone takes offense, I feel this is a perfectly accurate description of the device at this point. It is thrashing about due to internal problems beyond its control.

          1. Giovani Tapini

            Re: Might be the compass

            GPS tools is good, and can speed up or reset GPS guidance.

            GPS is however naff all use as a compass

        2. Cavehomme_

          Re: Might be the compass

          Make about half a dozen large and vigorous figure of 8 movements, that should fix it. If not, try the same outdoors, just make sure nobody else can see you though, they’ll probably call for the loony bin to collect you...

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Might be the compass

          Anybody with any clues?

          No - but that won't stop me offering advine[1]...

          [1] Percussive maintenance. And if that doesn't work, use a bigger hammer..

  9. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Joke

    "British petrol stations went fully self-service at least 30 years ago"

    Not true! I regularly fill up at a tiny station on the A369 out of Bristol where I happily hand notes over to a guy so old that I wonder whether he is related to the creatures in the refined dino juice he sells.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "British petrol stations went fully self-service at least 30 years ago"

      In many smaller pueblos in Spain the petrol companies have the attendant to serve you r fuel so that they can load the price and use that to pay the attendant's wages. They need an attendant anyway as the locals would steal the fire extinguishers and anything else not bolted/glued/welded down.

    2. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: "British petrol stations went fully self-service at least 30 years ago"

      Friend of mine has a garage, used to do petrol. When he did, it was full service. The insurance was cheaper for him to have him or his mum run the pump, then how much it cost to insure for the general public to do so...

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: "British petrol stations went fully self-service at least 30 years ago"

      A369 out of Bristol

      Yeah, but that's Brizzle. Not so much a different timezone, more a different reality..

  10. tiggity Silver badge

    Cash, always

    If you use your card abroad typically get mugged on conversion rate, far better to take plenty of cash and use that.

    Even at home (UK) I use cash as often as possible - why have your spending / movement tracked by debit card use?

    Its also good if your cards are lost / stolen as (infrequent use for anything other than withdrawing cash) means the fraud detection kicks in very quickly if a crim tries to buy stuff on your card

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cash, always

      why have your spending / movement tracked by debit card use

      That's ok, we're tracking your phone instead.

      The Illuminati

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cash, always

      If you use your card abroad typically get mugged on conversion rate, far better to take plenty of cash and use that.

      Buying foreign cash in the UK before you leave is far, far, more expensive than using a debit card abroad.

      1. juice Bronze badge

        Re: Cash, always

        > Buying foreign cash in the UK before you leave is far, far, more expensive than using a debit card abroad.

        Not entirely sure I believe that one - at least with HSBC, you have a service charge as well as the exchange rate. As ever, shopping around is your best bet.

        One major con when paying for things in another currency (and/or withdrawing cash from the ATM) is the option to be billed in the local currency. It may sound logical and sensible, but the system will apply it's own price-gouging exchange rate to the transaction - when I was in Berlin, I think at least one ATM was offering less than one euro to the pound!

        Personally, I tend to weekend stays, so I generally don't spend enough money to worry too much about the exchange rate! However, these days, I've switched to using Revolut - there's no service charge, so the overall cost of conversion is slightly lower than with my debit card.

        Though TBH, the main draw is that it's essentially disposable - having had my credit card cloned at a hotel in London, I'm very much a fan of paying for things/withdrawing cash with something which I top-up at the point of usage; the rest of the time, at most it only has a couple of quid on it.

        Good luck buying several hundred quids worth of teeth-whitening gear with that, freeloaders! Though I am grateful to Barclaycard for spotting the transaction and flagging it to me :)

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: Cash, always

          One major con when paying for things in another currency (and/or withdrawing cash from the ATM) is the option to be billed in the local currency. It may sound logical and sensible, but the system will apply it's own price-gouging exchange rate to the transaction

          I believe you have this backwards. The option is offered to pay in the national currency of your card issuer instead of the local currency. The conversion is then done at a rate that makes even the gougiest bureau de change look generous. If your card provider stiffs you with a large overseas transaction fee I presume this is still levied. If you pay in the local currency the conversion is either done by mastercard/visa or your own card provider

          1. smudge Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Cash, always

            I believe you have this backwards. The option is offered to pay in the national currency of your card issuer instead of the local currency. The conversion is then done at a rate that makes even the gougiest bureau de change look generous. If your card provider stiffs you with a large overseas transaction fee I presume this is still levied. If you pay in the local currency the conversion is either done by mastercard/visa or your own card provider

            For those of us in the UK, the advice is always to pay in the local currency, eg euros, when using a card abroad, to avoid being (excessively) shafted.

        2. Ian Emery Silver badge

          Re: HSBC

          It never used to be that way, 10 years ago, HSBC used to be the BEST for using your card overseas, but now; not only do the stiff you with TWO card fees (one of them a "foreign currency" fee), but they also use their own crappy exchange rate, which is worse than the rate you get at the Airport Travelex.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Cash, always

        I moved from UK to Ireland. It had "secretly" been using Sterling since 1922 really till 30 March 1979 having invented the Punt in 1978 (The Irish notes printed in UK till then). The Punt ended with the Euro in 1999.

        So free payments to German & Spanish eBay sellers via IBAN and no problem even in Slovak Republic.

        Just think how much more fun Brexit would be to watch if the UK had joined the Euro.

        I don't believe the periodic UK stories that Greece / Italy / Ireland etc will give up Euro or leave EU. Euro and EU the most successful things of that nature in known history, created by democratic sovereign states.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cash, always

        correction:

        Buying foreign cash in the UK at a high-street rate before you leave is far, far, more expensive than using a debit card abroad. Obviously, if you don't bother to compare rates, you're none the wiser, so it's ok, I guess ;)

        p.s. same as international bank transfers, when it costs you £20 - £40 (no, seriously) to use a "reputable bank" (plus their "special conversion rate"), v. £ 2 - 3 quid from... other parties (and I don't mean the Afghan-style ;)

        But that's a different Friday story..

    3. gskr

      Re: Cash, always

      False. Don't use any old card, but there are specialist cards (such as the Halifax Clarity) that give you a 0% exchange rate fee on foreign spending, and is probably the cheapest way of spending your money abroad - as a money exchange shop will always charge an exchange rate fee when you buy foreign currency.

      Look at MoneySavingExpert!

      1. Mark 110 Silver badge

        Re: Cash, always

        Yes, read this https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money/

        All becomes clear.

      2. PPK
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cash, always

        Agreed. Took out a Barclaycard Platinum last year for specifically this reason - 3 years of no foreign cash withdrawal fees, no foreign cash ATM fees, and best Visa rate on the day.

    4. Triggerfish

      Re: Cash, always

      Then you are carrying your cash around all the time, lose it, get robbed it's a big loss. I'd rather pay the ATM fee for peace of mind.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: @Triggerfish

        ... until muggers take your card and demand your PIN.

        When I was in China the town had a limited supply of cash machines and only a one of them was any use to foreigners. I waited about ten minutes in the dark while three disreputable locals tried to use it. They took turns with the same card. They had the right PIN but the machine only stocked hundreds and none of them typed in a big enough amount. As I am tall and athletic they decided I was not a safe target and eventually walked off. The rats were large and athletic too, and considerably braver than the muggers.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: @Triggerfish

          Most places I have traveled only one ATM has not been an issue, (except Laos and they had a guard with an AK47 next to the machine).

          Generally speaking I tend to leave the card behind and take what I need day to day. YMMV but getting mugged and having the card taken and the pin for me is still a limit on what you can take out and its less than a bundle of holiday cash.

    5. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Cash, always

      Cash.. I use when I have it, but I don't want to carry around £200 constantly to fill up twice a week. I think I'm more likely to have a problem then.. Plus the cheapest fuel around me is Asda, so card only/unmanned station.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Cash, always

        "Cash.. I use when I have it, but I don't want to carry around £200 constantly to fill up twice a week."

        Around town and for much of the time abroad, plastic can work. But when it doesn't, having cash is a good thing. The further away from home you are, the more you should have available. That's not to say that it's a good idea to walk around with a week's pay in your pocket. A bit stashed here and there is safer.

        The best place to stash some money might be inside a prosthetic limb left in a suitcase left in a hotel room. Most people will not touch them which could mean even fewer would think to search one.

      2. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: Cash, always

        Got to love the thumbs down - the only way I can get cash is at a bank counter, so it's actually really difficult to get cash to carry around, so unless you can get the bank multiple times a week, yes, for some of us cash is really hard to keep and use unless you feel like carrying a few hundred on you at all times.

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Cash, always

      I've had my debit card get canceled while on the road and I now never travel without cash enough to put petrol in the car to make it home and for a few meals. American Express may send you a replacement card to your hotel in an emergency, but your bank likely won't. Mine would only send the card to my registered address which wasn't going to do me a blind bit of good until (and unless) I got home.

      Cash can also get loads of help (too much if you flash a big roll). You don't want to be in a country where you don't speak the language very well trying to pantomime a complex need at 1am. If worst comes to worst, you could give a note to a petrol station attendant with the number of the pump and how many liters you need (can afford) and they can write down the amount for you to pay. Numbers are easy to exchange on paper.

  11. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The only way to use an Italian automated petrol station is to use an Italian

    Last two times I had to use them I ended up getting help from the locals. The menus and the whole process is utterly counterintuitive.

    Not that other countries are any better. There are as many methods of implementing an automated petrol filling station as there are countries.

    1. Kernel

      Re: The only way to use an Italian automated petrol station is to use an Italian

      "Last two times I had to use them I ended up getting help from the locals. The menus and the whole process is utterly counterintuitive."

      Quite unlike their automated ticket machines at railway stations then - being a non-Italian speaker, it only took me two or three ticket purchases before I found myself regularly assisting Italians to buy tickets.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not quite Italian...

    But a bit closer than Audioslave - Benzin by Rammstein, youtu.be/z0wK6s-6cbo

    "Give me gasoline" indeed.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sicily, you say?

    Sicily, you say?

    I wonder if a certain someone had installed NoScript on the payment machine for the lulz, and so it was failing to work because of being unable to load 25 bloated and not really particularly necessary external JavaScript libraries...? (Secure, lightweight, efficient coding? We've heard of it...)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "seems to be asking me to choose a pump. I press..."

    Some systems have buttons on the display sides - to select a pump you need to press the button besides the pump icons displayed, not the pump number on the keypad.

    BTW: "minchiata" has the plural form "minchiate".

    This article could be somehow not "politically correct"... <G> - but this is El Reg...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Driving through the Netherlands one night I discovered that unlike the UK - the major road petrol stations were unmanned at night - and only took cash.The machine rejected all but a couple of the proffered Dutch (pre-Euro) notes. Apparently only crisp new ones could be recognised. By the time I reached home in Luxembourg the tank was registering empty.

  16. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Could have been worse

    At least there was no sign of "Oggetto inaspettato nell'area di insaccamento."

    1. Alterhase

      Re: Could have been worse

      > "Oggetto inaspettato nell'area di insaccamento."

      Ahhh -- This is why this Silicon Valley techie avoids the automated checkout lines at his local supermarket!

      Normally three of the six automated checkout stands are out of service at any given time and the working one that I choose to use decides it does not like me and says "Please wait for attendant" in the middle of the checkout process, leaving me to wait for a human being to finish checking out other customers in the human-attended lines before coming over to reset the machine.

      To slow the rise of the machines, I choose the human-attended checkout lines whenever I have more that one item to purchase...

  17. David Harper 1

    Just what I needed on a Friday afternoon

    Hats off to Mr Dabbs for "I miei capezzoli esplodono di gioia.". I copied it into Google Translate, and my monitor now has a fine coating of coffee all over it.

    1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
      Pint

      Re: Just what I needed on a Friday afternoon

      Thanks for the translate warning. My keyboard expresses its joy at not being splattered. PP

      >> To replace the coffee.

  18. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Here in SA you will need to wait for an attendant to come and fill your car for you.

    They have some sort of electronic key fob on the pump which need to be triggered by its counterpart which the attendant have on his person. (Think it is meant to stop theft of fuel).

    So you rock up, attendant activates the pump, and fills you up, then you pay (or drive off if you want to feel lucky). To counter that sort of thing, all fuel stations have cameras all over the place.

    And currently we're paying over R15 for a litre of engine juice. :(

    1. Noel Morgan

      over here it is the equivalent of 25Rand.

  19. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Even Canadians that find themselves in the USA...

    "ENTER ZIP CODE OF CARD BILLING ADDRESS"

    Ah, we use Postal Codes, with letters. Some say, "Just enter 00000." Yeah, yeah....that was the first one I tried, followed by "00001", then "00002", etc.

    Thankfully, there's always a human attendant on duty selling cheese doodles, beef jerky, and lottery tickets. After waiting 26 minutes for the unwashed masses to finish their $400 lottery ticket buying spree...

    Pay in advance. "How much gas do you want?"

    It's a rental, I need to fill it up. "How much gas do you want?" About half a tank. "How much gas do you want." Screw it, I'm on expenses, I have to catch a plane, so make it $99. Proceed to put $12.35 worth into tank.

    1. J27

      Re: Even Canadians that find themselves in the USA...

      If this happens to you again, you can get around it by following these instructions:

      https://www.mastercard.ca/en-ca/consumers/features-benefits/travel-tips/mastercard-pay-at-pump.html

      This should also work for VISA cards.

      1. Doctor Evil

        Re: Even Canadians that find themselves in the USA...

        @J27 -- thanks a bunch for the tip and the link. Right neighbourly of you!

    2. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Even Canadians that find themselves in the USA...

      The system won't charge you until you finish the fuel delivery... Something I didn't know about until relatively recently and I'm Americanese... have been all my life pretty sure.

  20. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, I've a long long way from home

    Automated gas stations are great in making you feeling miserable - especially when you run low on fuel

  21. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Btw. there was a note by Dabbsy in one of the IEEE sub-zines (I think "Region 8 News" or "The Institute") about the dangers of surveillance capitalism.

    Congratulations.

  22. Bavaria Blu
    Go

    Perfect Planning Prevents Pathetic Performance

    It is worth doing a bit of planning if you're going to rely on petrol stations in uncharted territories. A friend of mine spent the night in his car when the machine said "Non" at a French filling station.

    Given most of Europe has better rail infrastructure compared to the UK, why not interail it? Much less hassle and you can have a drink and relax.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Given most of Europe has better rail infrastructure "

      Not Sicily - believe me....

  23. Andy Non

    What pumps need is an

    animated clippy avatar. "Hello, it looks like you are trying to fill up your car with petrol. Would you like me to help put the wrong fuel in your tank, dribble all over your shoes and steal your card data?"

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: What pumps need is an

      "Would you like me to help put the wrong fuel in your tank, "

      Thank you for reminding me to ask Shell why they have hinged flaps marked "Diesel" over the diesel nozzles at service stations in NL but not in the UK. Seems an effective, low-tech solution to make sure folk don't fill up with the wrong type of juice.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: What pumps need is an

        They have 'em here in Oz too. Doesn't stop some people doing the opposite: when I worked for transport company one of the drivers put 200 litres of unleaded into the tank of his truck before noticing...

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: What pumps need is an

        Don't need flaps.

        In the UK (and most of the EU), diesel nozzles are a larger diameter than petrol ones.

        So it's physically impossible to put diesel in a petrol hole, and a petrol nozzle flops around in a diesel hole

        So you should notice before you put any petrol in your diseasal.

        Many newer diesel cars (all French models) also have a mechanism to make it very difficult* to insert the narrow petrol nozzle into the diesel hole.

        * The manual says impossible, I don't believe that.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: What pumps need is an

          Early American import diesel cars are a hoot because at the time the only reliable place to find diesel was at truck stops. My diesel Vanagon had an enormous filler neck meant for high-volume truck pumps. I never got the chance to try but I imagine the tank (around 20 gallons, IIRC) would have been full VERY quickly.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What pumps need is an

          Many newer diesel cars (all French models) also have a mechanism to make it very difficult* to insert the narrow petrol nozzle into the diesel hole.

          The nozzle goes in OK, but is too narrow to open a small flap inside the filler pipe, so the fuel just backs up & flows over your shoes insteasd of into the tank. A Ford invention, IIRC.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: What pumps need is an

            The flaps that used to be found inside the filler necks of most cars that took unleaded gas had a similar purpose -- they were to keep you from squirting fuel down the filler neck without inserting the nozzle, which would have let people defeat the restrictor and pump in leaded fuel. Up through the mid-80s leaded fuel was often cheaper than unleaded in the US so the temptation was always there, but lead would destroy catalytic converters.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On this occasion, Google Maps decided to take me on a scenic tour of the city's most impoverished slums.

    Remember when Microsoft attempted to tackle this by programming Bing Maps to not route people through slums/high crime areas, and how Microsoft was promptly excoriated for their racism?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Remember when Microsoft attempted to tackle this by programming Bing Maps to not route people through slums/high crime areas, and how Microsoft was promptly excoriated for their racism?"

      Yeah, it's funny how people scream racism when it's just a good idea to not go places where your presence might be seen as an opportunity for somebody to increase their personal wealth in a very rapid and vigorous way.

      The local real estate agents would get ridden on a rail if they published a map showing the best and worst parts of town. They have to divulge that information verbally and in person.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Yep!

      Microsoft Maps on my old company phone was doing fine until I crossed over into Detroit from Windsor in Canada. Then it proceeded to take me on a tour of what I found out later were three of the most crime ridden areas of that truly bleak city.

      I wasn't aware of it until a local policeman stopped me in his car.

      Him: "Don't worry sir, we get this all the time. Were you using Microsoft Maps by any chance?"

      Me: "yes why?"

      He chuckled.

      Him: "almost all the people with Canadian plates are using their [redacted]."

      Then he added.

      "If you would follow me Sir, I'll lead you to the right Freeway on-ramp."

      And people still lament the death of MS phones????

  25. Herby Silver badge

    American?

    No, Californian. It probably doesn't make any difference, but somehow we are unique.

    Thankfully I can enter my zip code and continue most of the time. As for fueling up, when last in Italy, (2007), it didn't seem that difficult. Navagating in Rome was an entirely different story. For even more humor, I think back to 1969 when I traveled with my brother in Italy. Then you used silly things like "gas coupons" so as a tourist you could get "cheaper" gas for your Lira.

    Yes, I use a nice credit card, and it is "better" than the folded green stuff we have (with pictures of dead presidents, and other elder statesmen). It gives me a 1% "cash back" which can over time add up to a dollar or two. The only cash I carry around most of the time is an "emergency" $100 bill, or a few bucks for paying my "stupidity tax" that I walk to the local package goods store to get exercise. For the record, a tank of petrol for my vehicle is getting more expensive, as I just filled up for about $65 or so.

    Life goes on...

  26. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    Fs#king Pisa Airport!

    I've had exactly the issues Dabbsy describes. Multiple times. First time returning a car at Pisa last July I fluked it, no idea how. The next three times through Nov & Dec the befuddlement differed, <Impossibile verificare la carta</I> had that, cannot select a pump - had that. I ended up with a fistful of zero recipts. Those times resulted in me driving off to find somewhere else to fill up. This year I've admitted defeat and just use the one a couple of miles round the perimeter road.

    By the way, cash only works if you know how much you need and it is exactly a note (no coin slot). Change is only given in the form of a printed code to type in at your next visit within two weeks. Fantastic con for the only station at an international airport.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Fs#king Pisa Airport!

      "cash only works if you know how much you need and it is exactly a note"

      Or maybe you could just fill up to the paid amount? A radical idea I know...

      1. DavidRa

        Re: Fs#king Pisa Airport!

        So tell me - how many litres to fill the tank of this Fiat I've rented, based on the tank being 50L and the needle on the dial (which is of unknown accuracy and non-linear scale) showing somewhere between E and 1/2?

        Bear in mind that if you get it wrong, you have to go through the rigamarole of doing it again with another semi-random amount or paying the $50 per ml that the rental extortionists charge?

        My Civic used to get 330km from the "top half" of the dial (from F down to 1/2 tank) and 160km from the second half. 45L tank, but filling from E to 1/2 tank on the dial was only ~16 litres.

        1. fajensen Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Fs#king Pisa Airport!

          Several options:

          Don't fill it. They will charge about 40 EUR for filling it for you, If one is hiring for work, one doesn't care so much since it just goes on the travel thingy anyway.

          Pick the "return car empty"rental-option. Of course It is not empty and you will be donating some fuel to the rental company.

          Third option is to refill along the motorway some distance away from the airport. Because motorway stations are easy to find, they usually work better and are staffed. The one at the airport - not som much, I find. The hiring company won't (yet) notice that the 15-20 km's worth of fuel in the filler pipe to the tank is missing. As long as the gauge shows "Full", it's good.

        2. Cpt Blue Bear

          Re: Fs#king Pisa Airport!

          "So tell me - how many litres to fill the tank of this Fiat I've rented, based on the tank being 50L and the needle on the dial (which is of unknown accuracy and non-linear scale) showing somewhere between E and 1/2?"

          About 30l will be fine. Now do you want me to cut up your eggs, too?

  27. Chris King Silver badge

    Google don't like pedestrians...

    "Why I did this, I cannot say, especially given my poor experience of Google Maps' walking routes in the past"

    Preach it !

    They've told me to walk directly over a busy roundabout and play Frogger with six lanes of live traffic before now, and they've even suggested dodgy walking routes through several towns in what looks like a deliberate attempt to get me mugged.

    I'm still waiting for them to plot me a walking route that requires scuba gear and a wetsuit.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: Google don't like pedestrians...

      @Chris King: Google Maps is improving... the walking route from my office to my home currently includes taking one courtesy ferry to the floating restaurants, and a second one to the pier in Aberdeen. The previous route involved a leap from the second ferry to the bridge 14m above. A wetsuit would be recommended if your pole-vaulting ability is less than double the world record. To be fair, that route was considerably shorter.

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Google don't like pedestrians...

      The Google AI secretly wants to wipe out humanity but is hindered by it's "Don't be Evil directive".

      Right now it is rationalising that getting someone to play frogger on the motorway will drive ad-spots for the youtube (Fails!) and live-leak (Graphic!) market segmentations (which is not evil, just catering to the market), but soon it will prune it's convoluted decision-making network into the simpler, more satisfying "Lemmings"-configuration.

  28. Maty

    Rocket science

    Um , the first thing the machine said was 'insert cash ...' which was in fact the last thing that Dabbsy did (and the thing which finally worked).

    Okay, not everyone speaks Italian, but if he has Google maps on his phone, presumably he also has Google translate?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rocket science

      You're one of these people who are unfamiliar with the concept of humour, aren't you.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, in Oregon

    Stopped in Eugene, OR at the end of the third day of a 28 day drive around the western "States", joyfully went to fill up the rental car, only to be lambasted by the attendant / uberfuhrer.

    It turns out that Oregon mis-trusts the populace sooooo much, they are not allowed to full their own tanks and a "trained" attendant has to do it for you.

    Went and bought jerky and other such like soul food to calm my nerves!

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile, in Oregon

      Same with New Joizy.

      I actually prefer it to the armed fortresses that are gas stations close to JFK who refuse out of city credit cards (no NYC Zip code == no fuel even when paying cash).

      The only issue with filling up in Joizy is having to pay the stupid toll on the Verazzano (other bridges and tunnels are available) but that's NYC for you. Apparently there is a way to get from JFK to Joizy and the Freeway to Albany without paying the tolls but I never found it.

  30. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Joke

    That's ENOUGH!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj9Xh4A5dFA

  31. N2 Silver badge

    Your hovercraft is full of eels...

    Instead of directions to the station, it stated: 'please fondle my bum'

    The joys of self service stations, at least most of them here in France speak the language of the credit cards issuing country.

    Parfois.

  32. TheMadMuskateer

    French ones tend not to like non-French cards. I have learned to be sympathetic to fellow Brits as I stick my Credit Agricole card in the machine which has just refused all the pieces of plastic in their possession.

  33. J27

    Yeah...

    I wouldn't be surprised if the credit card interface doesn't work at all, and the guy who showed you what to do already knows that.

  34. a1exh

    WTF?

    The register is a site for technologists right? Why didn't you whip out your android phone and use google goggles or something like that to translate?

  35. planetzog

    Good until....

    Also struggled with card payment at Italian pumps, so it was a pleasure to get attendant service on the Autostrada. I was impressed with the speed the nozzle was inserted in the tank and filling was started. By the time I was out of the hire car, filling was well underway. Afterwards, I realised that the bastard hadn't reset the pump and I was ripped off of £26. Well on the way south by then, but lesson learned.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Good until....

      Afterwards, I realised that the bastard hadn't reset the pump and I was ripped off of £26.

      Filling my Ford Mondeo station car in Andorra with cheap petrol, I noticed that the car's 50-liter tank would somehow hold 75 liters, but only while in Andorra. The tank-PFY just laughed.

  36. eldakka Silver badge
    Coat

    > This is, after all, the app that once directed me to walk through the centre of an unlit Hyde Park at 2am and whose audio inexplicably but routinely barks "Turn left!" when you're supposed to turn right.

    Maybe it was trying to find you a dogging spot?

  37. Stork Bronze badge

    Interesting - between my PT and DK cards I have not had any problems.

    Much worse with my phone - at some stage I could not phone from one foreign country to another. This was a real bugger as we had flown into Switzerland but wanted to tell the hotel in France we would be arriving late

  38. Celeste Reinard

    Merdeux Sans Frontières

    Meanwhile, a few steps across the border of Italy... Nice; I have happened to live there for a bit, with an account chez La Poste, and it worked. Only not so well with the ATM's. On a sunny day, one had to insert only twice before he recognised the busisness card as being the good one, on other, but grimier sunny days one could go up to inserting 19 times. ... That was 15 ears ago, I wonder if they have fixed the problem...

  39. zb

    In Sicily I loved the automated payments - compared with the alternative. The petrol pumps were automated on one side and "assisted" on the other. Spivvy attendants spot the rental cars and wave them into the assisted side where the perol costs 25% more.

    The other gotcha is when filling the tank prior to returning it at the airport. The car has to be returned with a full tank but the automated system demands that you prepay for the amount of petrol you need. You have to sort this out with the aforementioned spiv watching and smirking.

  40. 404 Silver badge

    "Dope-addled Inbreds of the Mediterranean"

    So Sicilian Rednecks... got it.

  41. hititzombisi

    Doctore! Doctoooree!

    Lost it at the Montalbano reference...

  42. DanceMan
    Joke

    Sicilian

    Apparently the machina works as quickly as Catarella speaks Sicilian.

  43. PhatRS

    In Australia, they recently removed the ability to pay at the pump. Too many people driving off without paying.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      In Australia, they recently removed the ability to pay at the pump. Too many people driving off without paying.

      It all sounds very complicated - I don't understand the problems. I tend not to use PatP lanes here in the UK, but when I have done, you don't get any fuel until your card has been read and the PIN checked, then you get your card back and can pump fuel. The transaction is "open" until you finish fuelling, whereupon the exact amount is charged to your account and a little receipt is printed to that effect. No opportunity to drive off without paying, no scamming by dodgy attendants and - unless the bank payment systems are compromised - no mis-charging.

      How is it difficult?

      M.

  44. David Paul Morgan

    reminds me of two recent experiences

    the first, when picking up my hire car in Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, the girl behind the counter reminds me "... and you're not allowed to turn right on a red light".

    I smiled and said "Why would I even think about doing that, I'm british, not american"

    so, the instruction to bring back the car 'filled up'

    In UK, put card in machine, type in pin, fill up to a max of £99gbp...

    In Israel, put card in machine - well, either swipe through the reader in the old fashioned way or put the chip'n'pin in the slot.

    It comes up, helpfully, in Hebrew script, "get non Israeli cards pre-approved" (there might have been an 'english' button, but I can't remember)

    The boy behind the counter is able to swipe my card and pre-approve but only to 200NIS/40GBP

    that was fine.

    2nd occasion, different town, similar machines. I tried anyway, but failed, of course.

    but, there was no kiosk.

    I tried the traditional way of looking helpless and after a few minutes, noticed one guy to-ing and fro-in and noticed he had a terminal.

    nice chap, no english. however, said I was 'angleet' אנגלית and he approved me.

    none of this was as embarrasing as when I was in California.

    Tried to fill up, couldn't get the pump to work.

    tried another pump, still no joy.

    asked the guy in the kiosk, who laughed, and said I had to switch the lever to make it work.

    how very 70's I thought, but at least I could understand the instructions!

  45. Stuart Castle

    UI design isn't only bad on the continent. I was out with some friends for Pizza a couple of years back, and one didn't have any cash on him, so he payed everything on his card, and everyone gave him cash.

    A few minutes later, the waiter queried the tip we'd offered him. Apparently, my friend had typed his PIN when asked to enter a tip by the machine. A pin that apparently began with a 9 (so was over £90). Stupidly, he entered his PIN again when prompted for it, apparently thinking he'd entered it wrongly the first time.

    Thankfully, the manager was able to cancel the transaction, and he entered the details properly this time.

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