I’m curious if the stereotypical 1950’s American-style full service experience (as played for a laugh in Back To The Future) still exists anywhere in the world, and I’m especially curious about the international angle, so please identify your location, international Dopers and expat Americans.
I’m not sure precisely when full service mostly died out in the U.S., but I remember windshield (front and back) wipes and even oil level checks being common in the 1970’s, in Miami.
Here’s a key for shorthand replies: [all services rendered for “free” only, please]
P – pump your gas
W – clean the windshield
RW – clean the rear windshield, too
4W – clean your 2 or 4 side windows too!
L – clean or otherwise check headlights
TL – ditto, for taillights
O – check oil
TP – tire pressure
TA – tire alignment/wheel rotation (was this ever a free service anywhere?)
M – miscellaneous; please specify.
New Jersey being the contrarian “mandatory service station” state it is, we at least get our gas pumped for us, but I can’t remember the last time anyone volunteered to wipe my windshield. Okay, your turn!
The mom and pop gas station I use is really run by a mom and pop, their two grown sons and assorted girlfriends of their sons.
P; plus on request:W, RW, L, TL, O, TP (and put more air in for me), and M: check if your antifreeze is strong enough for the weather expected. They will also bring you out a soft drink and a bag of chips from the rack inside and add it to your total bill. That can be really nice some days!
I’m 28 and have lived in NE Ohio my whole life and have never had one of those services extended to me or my family while at a gas station.
I can clean my own windows for free (maybe, if there’s cleaner in the bucket and the squeegee isn’t all goobered up) and get air for .75 (or maybe for free if you remember to ask the attendant but that requires going inside). At one place I can get hand sanitizer for free (maybe, if there’s any in the dispenser).
In Australia (at least in Queensland, anyway), you get nothing at all. Pump your own petrol, check your own oil & water, clean your own windscreen, etc.
A few places advertise “Full Driveway Service”, but whenever I fill up there, the attendant is usually inside processing the sale for a previous customer so I end up doing it myself.
When I lived in NZ, however, it was still common to get a free windscreen cleaning and check on the oil & water whenever you filled your tank. The last time I was back there (about 2 years ago), no-one seemed to be doing it anymore.
I usually buy gas at the gas station connected with my supermarket. This is because they do “Gas Rewards” points, where you get a 10 cents a gallon discount for every $100.00 you spend at the market, up to 50 cents a gallon. The gas there is the same price it is in the other low-price stations in town, and that’s the market I shop at anyway, so it makes sense.
Anyway, it’s all self-serve. But there is one attendant there sometimes, an older gentleman, who has voluntarily pumped my gas for me when the weather was particularly cold. The station also supplies free hand sanitizer, and a free air pump.
I’ve lived in Ohio all my life and have never gotten any kind of “full service”, at least not at a gas station. I remember when I was a kid most of the gas stations would have self-serve and full-serve pumps, the full-serve being a little bit more. I don’t recall ever being with my parents or anyone else who used them, but I think all they did was pump your gas. Those don’t even exist anymore, all the gas stations are just self-serve now as far as I know.
Yes, I DO remember that there were different “self serve” and “full serve” pumps at the stations around here (most of our stations have changed hands a few times in the past 30 years) but now that I think of it, my dad never used “full serve” - he was too broke to spend extra money on a tip and too nice to not tip.
The Great Divide, culturally speaking, I guess. I never heard of anyone ever tipping a gas station attendant, when we still had such an animal. Never. Americans tip, I think, and Canadians don’t?
For awhile we had Full Serve, which cost a little more than Self Serve. But sometime in the unknown past, they no longer gave you any incentive to pump your own gas - and then, overnight it seems, the gas station attendant was gone.
Now, here in BC, beginning on February 1st, no one can pump their own gas (or have it pumped by an attendant) unless it is prepaid, or unless you “pay at the pump” with a gas card or debit/credit card, or Paypass. This new law is the result of a horrible murder a few years ago in Maple Ridge where a young gas station employee tried to stop a “gas and run” and was dragged several kilometres to his death.
Most places offer no service. Nothing. But so far I’ve never had to pay for air.
Same here in all aspects, right down to living in Ohio, except for the small time my dad worked at the corner station and I would see him service others at the full service pump, but even then it was just to pump their gas, wash windows and make change so they never had to leave their car. He had one of those change things that hung on his belt. I remember I liked to play with it by clicking out all the change and then putting it back in.
We have one station in our little town that still offers self serve, but it is indicated with a handicap sign, so I am sure that the handicap are the only ones that use it most of the time. I am not sure what the price difference is though or if there is one. This station also offers free air. Yeah you read that right FREE AIR.
The one thing that pisses me off the most is the ones that charge the .50 cents for air but 99.9% of the time the machines are out of order and you really need air in your tire. They also put the stupid things in the most inconvenient spots. You have to place you car in such a way that it blocks the flow of incoming and outgoing traffic.
Well, I’ve lived in America all my life, and I’m with you on this one. I’m old enough to remember my mother getting full service (and when I was very young, full service often included a “gift”, a drinking glass or some such), and don’t ever recall tipping being involved. But then again, my mother was a notorious cheapskate, so maybe most people did, but just not her?
By the time you had a choice of full serve or self serve, she had taught me to pump gas, and made me do it so she could get the self serve discount!
You get the full treatment in the bush still, in some places. Strange thing is, to this city boy, it always makes me feel a little awkward, like I’m being waited on like a king. In any event, with modern cars, the fluid levels seem to invariably be fine, and the petrol station’s windscreen washing water is invariably feeeeelthy, so I thinkI’m actually happier pumping my own petrol and getting out of there. I’ll check the fluids and wash my car myself, in my own time.
When I was working in a service station in New Zealand in the late 1990s we pumped fuel, cleaned windscreens, and checked and added oil. On request we would fit snow tyres*, add water to the radiator and add water to the windscreen wiper fluid container.
The oil company that owned us (Mobil I think) were very keen on us selling oil as it had a reasonable mark-up, the money made on fuel was pitiful. We had to sell oil and shop items to get any descent profits.
Up until the Gas crisis in '73 the attendant would pump your gas, clean your windshield, and check your oil. Then there were dual self-serve/full service lines. I lived in NJ from 80 - 96, so I missed the transition to no serve at all, but I remember that the attendant would clean your windshield sometimes back then.
ETA: There was never the horde of attendants shown in the movie, at least not in New York, and I’m old enough to remember. Done for comedic effect, I think.
I work at a gas station and we’re not allowed to do any of those things except pump gas for the elderly and/or disabled. Even then needs to be at least two people on duty and if the stores busy enough that there are lines at both registers we can’t even do that (except of course for the rare occasions when 3 people are on).