Quick fuel fill-ups spark pri­vacy warn­ing

Sunday News - - NEWS - CHLOE WIN­TER

FUEL com­pa­nies are giv­ing driv­ers more op­tions to fill up in an at­tempt to re­move con­ges­tion at the pump.

How­ever, Con­sumer NZ is warn­ing peo­ple about giv­ing away per­sonal data, say­ing they are hand­ing over much more than just their card de­tails.

Z En­ergy and BP have launched apps which of­fer cus­tomers the op­tion of fill­ing up their car with­out set­ting foot in store.

Z En­ergy is tri­alling ‘‘Fast Lane,’’ which al­lows driv­ers to pull up to ded­i­cated pumps, fuel up and drive off with­out leav­ing their car, touch­ing their phone or even their wal­let.

Its ri­val BP al­lows cus­tomers to pull up to any pump, se­lect their pump, fuel type and amount to spend be­fore fill­ing up and driv­ing off.

Both com­pa­nies use an app, which is pre-loaded with card de­tails. In Z’s case, the app is also loaded with the car’s num­ber plate, which is recog­nised by cam­eras at the ser­vice sta­tion.

Con­sumer NZ head of test­ing Paul Smith wanted to re­mind con­sumers to check what they were sign­ing up for, and what the com­pany would do with the data.

’’Con­sumers should re­alise they are giv­ing up a lot of their per­sonal data to the fuel com­pany, [which is] a con­cern for many of these loy­alty schemes.’’

The apps, as well as card loy­alty pro­grammes such as AA Smart­fuel, meant con­sumers were ef­fec­tively giv­ing up data about their driv­ing habits, gro­cery shop­ping ‘‘and much more’’, Smith said.

How­ever, he thought the Z sys­tem – which is be­ing tri­alled at 10 sta­tions in Auck­land and Christchurch – would go down well.

‘‘It’s a log­i­cal ex­ten­sion of the pay-at-pump idea, us­ing a phone as the in­ter­face. The num­ber plate recog­ni­tion sys­tem is used at air­port park­ing too, so it’s all tech that’s in place and should work well,’’ Smith said.

‘‘How­ever, with the Z ser­vice, con­sumers need to be aware that it’s based on your num­ber plate, you don’t need your phone with you, so any­one driv­ing your car can re­fuel,’’ Smith said.

‘‘That could be a good thing, adding con­ve­nience for other fam­ily mem­bers, or a risk.’’

Con­sumer NZ is warn­ing mo­torists to be aware of the data they give away.

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