Despite government assurances that the budget would help them out, millions still can’t afford their first gallon of petrol, claims the RAC. With the threat of unemployment and wage freezes allied to the credit crunch, young couples are struggling to get the deposit together to get their cars running. Most first-time pumpers are still having to rent their fuel, and many garages are now refusing to consider anyone with less than a four-star rating.
Shell has defended its decision to charge £299 just to apply for a tank of fuel, with customers tied in for the first year and expected to stay on the variable rate for a further 12 months to help pay off their debt. ‘In these recessionary times we have to be careful that our business doesn’t go up in smoke,’ said a spokesman.
The situation has now reached crisis point with thousands of first-time drivers defaulting on their petrol loans and having their tanks of fuel repossessed by the garage. ‘It leaves an awful taste in the mouth,’ said a Shell employee. ‘Especially if you don’t get the siphon pipe away from your lips in time.’
The government has defended the amount of tax on fuel and says that there is affordable petrol out there if customers are prepared to drive around to find it. But many garages have stopped dispensing petrol altogether and are concentrating on their core business of selling pornographic magazines and withered carnations.
However, there are hopes that alternatives may soon be made available to first-time drivers. After spending billions of pounds in the development stage, the Rover Group waited until the recent budget to finally unveil its long-awaited new ‘low-cost fuel vehicle’. ‘We thought we had the answer to all the petrol cost problems,’ said a spokesman. ‘We developed a car that ran on cider.’
MADJEZ (with help from fun and games, Ludicity and Zen)