Getting actual service at a servo a welcome move

OPINION: Way back when, in the late 1960s, I spent my Friday nights working in a service station in my home town to supplement my income.

I still recall, some 50 years on how every Friday night a little old man drove his E93A Ford Prefect onto the forecourt for its weekly fill.

The car was in mint condition. He'd get out of the car and ask to have the petrol tank filled, and then he'd ask, every weekend, if I could check the oil, water and the tyres, and also clean the windscreen - even though it didn't need cleaning.

I recall how it used to annoy the hell out of me every time I saw the tiny car arrive, but I knew that was the service that we provided, and so duly went about my work.

We still call them service stations - or servos for short - but there's not much in the way of service.

They are gas stations, where you can buy all manner of other items, but you help yourself.

Now I'm not criticising today's servo attendants.

They are told what they are expected to do by their employers - but people's idea of service has changed over the years, and not necessarily for the better.

Around Christmas time we took a trip back to New Zealand to catch up with the relatives and I was pleasantly surprised to find service returned to the forecourt in one chain of service stations.

The former Shell retail sales network, which controlled Shell service stations up until a couple of years ago, was bought by a different company which rebranded all stations from 'Shell' to 'Z'.

Along with the rebranding came a change to the old fashioned approach where customers are greeted on the forecourt, their tanks are filled and the windscreens are washed, and you get a cheery "would you like me to check under the bonnet"?

I've got no idea how much extra business these guys are getting, but it's certainly a welcome move.

It would be great to see it spread to other enterprises.