This website is an independent consumer protest, and is not run by Shell UK
The Great Shell pluspoints Swindle
UPDATED . . . see bottom of page

You may think that in this day and age, Shell could design an electronic loyalty system that was 'idiotproof' and didn't deprive the customer of the points they had rightfully earned. After all, they seem to have mastered the art of charging the correct amount to customers' credit cards.

But think again...

Depending on your choice of Shell Service Station, the pluspoints system often relies upon each individual cashier to manually key in the customer's purchase details on the pluspoints machine. This is because some Shell Service Stations do not have the technology to link the pluspoints machine electronically to the petrol pump payment system.

Surprisingly it's not the small "backwater" filling stations which are mainly affected by this lack of technology – it tends to occur more at Shell's larger and more modern sites.

So Shell customers often have to rely on the accuracy of the human link in the chain (ie. the cashier) to add their pluspoints. But as I found out, the cashiers often take very little care over adding the points to the card. As a regular Shell customer I have known the cashiers to completely fail to add the points to my card, and on one occasion to type "2" instead of "27" for the number of litres purchased.

(Strangely, Shell seem to have taken a step back in time where technology is concerned. Their now defunct "Smart Card" scheme, launched in the early 1990s, used a far more advanced and foolproof electronic system than the pluspoints system they replaced it with).

But the real kick in the face for the Shell customer is that you don't know you've been swindled out of points! There is no in-store display to let the customer know if their points have been added. Worse still, the receipts given by some Shell Service Stations make absolutely no mention of the pluspoints – no confirmation that your card was swiped, no confirmation of points added, no current points total. Nothing.

I started to become increasingly suspicious after seeing the careless way in which some cashiers handled the pluspoints machine (which contrasted sharply to the careful way they were swiping my Visa card through the till!) One time I was amazed to see the cashier take my pluspoints card off me, put it down next to the till while he charged my Visa card, and then give it back without putting it anywhere near the machine.

By going online I was able to get a complete breakdown of my pluspoints account, and by comparing it against my receipts and credit card statements I soon saw that things were seriously amiss. But for customers without internet access, you have no way of checking your pluspoints transactions unless you are blessed with psychic powers.

Two such mistakes in December 2003 at a Shell Service Station in Congleton caused me to miss out on a bonus payment because – according to Shell's computer – I didn't quite reach the target spend level. Of course, I did reach the target spend level, by filling my tank there twice a week, and I carefully made sure I purchased enough fuel to qualify for a nice bonus of 200 points in Shell's Winter pluspoints Promotion.

In fact Shell did very nicely out of me during that promotion – I spent several hundred pounds on their petrol and groceries inside the shop (both of which, I hasten to add, are the most expensive of their kind in the area).

So how did Shell fare when it came to putting right their mistakes?

I sent a polite e-mail to Shell Customer Services, asking for the missing 50 pluspoints (and the resulting 200 bonus points) to be added to my account. Luckily for me, I had kept all my receipts, because without them Shell had no intention of believing me. (And it's a good job I wasn't a business customer who had to keep my receipts for tax reasons, or I wouldn't have been able to send them back to Shell).

You might think that a quick glance at my pluspoints account would have made someone at Shell Customer Services realise what a high spender I was at their forecourts. Combined with the unlikely scenario that anyone would go and buy two litres of petrol in one purchase, you would hope that Shell may have had the goodwill and common sense to correct the mistakes without making me send in written proof of the mistakes by post.

But that's exactly what Shell made me do. So I dutifully posted off my receipts to Shell with a polite covering letter. And I waited. A month later.... none of the missing pluspoints had been added to my account. At which stage I gave up and decided to make this website.

And so a badly designed electronic system, careless cashiers and a disinterested customer service department caused me to lose 250 points that were rightfully mine under the Terms and Conditions of the scheme.

I eagerly await the day that Shell fail to swipe my Visa card properly, or type £2.00 instead of £20.00 on the Visa card terminal. Somehow I can't see that happening with such ease and frequency.

Of course this isn't the Great Train Robbery, I'm only a few quid worse off... but if that few quid is repeated with every Shell customer, we're talking about a lot of extra cash in their pockets. Extra cash which certainly won't harm the £27 million profit that Shell make every day.

Shame on Shell, I say. What a way to treat your most loyal customers.

The information contained on this website is true and accurate at the time of publication. Last updated March 2004.

UPDATE: In the short time since this website was launched in January 2004 I have been inundated with e-mails from other Shell customers who have found this website by accident when trying to reach the official website.

Shell claim that these problems are confined only to Congleton Service Station, but my feedback indicates that these problems are widespread and affect many Shell Service Stations across Britain. I have been told of numerous instances of customers not having their cards credited with the pluspoints they have rightfully earned, and instances of Shell ignoring requests to add missing points. I suspect that Shell secretly know what a sham their pluspoints system is, but won't admit it publicly.

Only after I created this website did Shell finally credit my account with the missing points. Even then, Congleton Service Station continued in their spectacular failure to add points to my card. Over half of all my purchases at this site have resulted in no plupoints being added to my card – I think that Shell urgently need to hold an investigation into why this is still being allowed to happen.

Please keep your e-mails coming in to ...they will all be compiled and published on this website at a later date. A list will be made of all the Shell Service Stations in Britain that are failing to add points correctly. The objective will be to get Shell to face up to the serious problems with the running of the pluspoints scheme, so that their customers get a fair deal.

Thank you for your support.