When double-amputee Brian Portland went to buy petrol at a BP station in South Auckland, he was told he had to pump it himself.

Then, Mr Portland was told he couldn't use his wheelchair on the forecourt because it breached health and safety regulations.

He says his experience at BP Connect, off the Southern Motorway at Papakura, was a "nightmare".

"I got out of my car to do it myself and they said: 'No, you can't do that. It's against health and safety rules. You can't get out of your car in a wheelchair on a forecourt.' That absolutely blew me away.

"He just looked at me, just staring blankly ... I just went, 'You're kidding me mate, come on' ... It's degrading."

Mr Portland, 58, an expatriate Kiwi who lives on the Gold Coast, was on his way from Auckland to Hamilton in August last year, having returned home to visit his elderly father.

He said the experience left him feeling shocked and disgusted - feelings that were reignited this week following publicity about the lack of service at some petrol stations.

Mr Portland said a Waikato Hospital surgeon saw the forecourt exchange and came to his assistance.

He filled the rental car with petrol, then took Mr Portland's credit card inside and paid. "He was seething - he couldn't believe it," Mr Portland said of the surgeon.

Other people on the forecourt "just stared in disbelief. It was just an absolute joke."

Mr Portland said he later received "brilliant" service at a Gasoline Alley station in Pokeno.

There, the service station owner filled the car with petrol, checked the oil and tyres and washed the windows.

He even told Mr Portland about a more scenic route - which he took - and gave him a pie his wife had made.

Mr Portland lost both his legs in an accident working as a shunter in the Parnell rail yards in October 1973 - two weeks before his wedding day.

BP spokeswoman Diana Stretch said company-owned stores had a "help serve" policy and wheelchair access signs were posted above lanes where extra help might be required.

"All the customer needs to do is give us a wave or a toot and we will come out to assist them.

"We take any incidences where we do not meet customer expectations seriously."

THE GOOD OIL

Readers have responded with outrage to the service station story.

Here are some of the stations praised for their good service:

* Shell Williamson Ave.
* Caltex Blockhouse Bay.
* Shell Pt Chevalier.
* Shell Mt Albert.
* BP at the Dominion Rd end of Balmoral Rd.
* Shell on Kepa Rd, up from Eastridge.