A uniformed Corrections employee says he was unlawfully detained for 45 minutes at an Avondale service station when staff refused to believe he had pre-paid for $30 of petrol.
The station has now apologised for the incident and offered a $30 payment, but the man is seeking legal advice, saying he has been publicly humiliated.
Parmesh Raman stopped to buy petrol at his regular Mobil service station on Great North Rd after work on Thursday and pre-paid $30 to the cashier.
What followed was "totally unprofessional", Mr Raman said.
He said he was made to feel like a criminal and detained by staff, who refused to acknowledge an Eftpos statement showing a deduction of $30.
Mr Raman said after pre-paying $30 the dollar figures on the pump were "jumping around" and when he stopped the pump it came up at $42.
However, when he went to pay the extra $12 he was told by the same woman cashier he had paid a few minutes earlier that he had not paid the original $30 and owed the station $42.
Neither the cashier nor the manager would accept the statement he obtained from an eftpos machine at the station or view in-store CCTV footage to prove he had paid. He was told he could not go to a bank to get a statement. At this point he rang his wife to get further proof from his bank, paid the outstanding $12 in cash and left.
A short time later, his wife arrived at the station after making a dash from work in Henderson with a text message from the ASB bank showing a $30 payment made to Mobil.
After missing some calls from the station on Thursday night, Mr Raman, a 57-year-old former Fiji policeman, returned to the service station yesterday, where a woman manager said they had viewed the camera footage which showed he had paid for the petrol. He also received an apology and an offer of $30 from the station operator, Ravin Shankar, who told the Weekend Herald he was not authorised to comment.
"They were just playing a game," said Mr Raman, who planned to talk to a lawyer about his legal options. "They were behaving in a totally unprofessional way."
Mobil issued a statement saying it was disappointing to hear about a negative customer service experience at a Mobil branded site. "Mobil works with all Mobil-branded site operators to encourage them to provide a high standard of service on site and to always try to provide a good experience for all customers."
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said legally there was not a lot Mr Raman could do about such a small sum of money, but the humiliation and embarrassment should be worth a lot more.
She had never heard of a dispute like that of Mr Raman's for pre-paid petrol.
AA spokesman Mark Stockdale said the motoring body had not received feedback about pre-paid petrol, which was a useful option to combat drive-off petrol theft and allowed motorists to fill up after hours when service stations were unmanned.