Gas Station Automation

Being a computer programmer and systems designer, I am usually a stickler with user interfaces. I recognize a bad one when I see one. Gas stations have my vote for absolutely worst of the worst.

First of all, I hate the little televisions that are showing up now. Shell stations have these annoying advertisements blaring at you while you are captive, pumping gas. I know that McDonalds advertises, because I have been bombarded by their ads for months. The whole package is supposed to look like news and information, but it’s really only a barrage of thinly veiled commercial messages. I am a customer, making a purchase of about $50 in gas, and I have to stand there and get bombarded with commercials. As a result, I have actually started avoiding Shell to escape the commercials.

In addition to annoying us with commercials, the keypad and screen layout is often completely unintuitive.

Sometimes the screen and card reader is in one area of the pump surface, and it tells you to type in your zip code and there is no keypad, at least not where you expect it, below the screen. Bewildered, you look around and eventually find the keypad two feet away in a whole different area. Then you type with your hand over there, looking at the echo on the screen over here. Are they trying to teach us hand-eye coordination under difficult conditions?

Finally, when you are all done, you need to select the grade of gasoline. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right button, and the only way you can tell is to look for the plastic surface material that is worn out or worn off and sometimes buckling. Aha, that’s where everybody pushes!

All this takes place outdoors, sometimes in inclement weather and often in bad lighting conditions.

Gas stations need to figure out a better way to communicate with their customers.

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  1. Pingback: Geek Challenge: Post a Way to Kill These Obnoxious, Annoying Jabber Boxes on Gas Pumps | Scott Clark - Finding the Sweet Spot

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