Bill Hoffman, 08 October 2015

“WHERE’S the humanity?”

That’s the question paraplegic athlete Darron Shields has been left asking after he was refused help to refuel his vehicle at BP Australia’s Forest Glen service station.

BP has apologised for the incident and promised to use it as an example to better train staff nationally about its expectations. However Mr Shields has been left wondering about the culture that led to the behaviour and attitude of BP’s staff.

On October 1 he pulled into BP Forest Glen and asked a customer, Noosa District High student Daniel Nunns, if he could find a staff member to fill his tank.

Ninety-nine per cent of the time Mr Shields, who in 2013 was the first athlete with paraplegia to complete the Sunshine Coast 70.3 half iron man, looks after himself at service stations and gets out of the car and into his wheelchair to do so.

But he wasn’t well and had only just popped out to visit a chemist.

Daniel did as requested but was turned away by BP workers who said it was against company policy.

So he filled Mr Shields’ car while his father Paul went in with his card to pay the bill.

Mr Nunns said his son didn’t know Darron’s name but had recognised him as someone who had given a lecture to young drivers at Noosa District High School about road safety.

Darron’s paraplegia is a consequence of a road accident.

Mr Shields is employed by the Paraplegic Benefit Fund Australia where he helps run its injury prevention program based around safety as a core value.

He said while he could accept the staff member’s attitude he was shocked by the service station manager also refusing to help.

“It makes you question where the humanity has gone,” he said.

Mr Nunns, of Cooroy, was equally stunned.

“When Daniel went to pay for our fuel I saw him being called over to a car where he talked to the driver,” Mr Nunns said.

“He then walked inside and came out shaking his head and went over and filled the car.

“I got out and asked him what was going on and he told me they had refused to serve the driver.”

Mr Nunns took Mr Shields’ cash card to pay for the fuel and went inside to find two women behind the counter and a man packing shelves.

“When I asked why they wouldn’t serve him they said it was company policy,” he said.

“I asked them if humanity came into it, but there was no apology.”

Mr Shields said he had “never in a million years” been confronted by a situation like it.

“Not that I ask for help,” he said.

“But I’ve been crook and was just out to go to the chemist. I needed fuel and thought I would ask if they could help me fill up.

“I didn’t have the energy to take it further. I intend to contact BP.”

A BP Australia spokesman said at sites it owned, customer service representatives were encouraged to provide “exceptional customer service and to help customers who request assistance”.

“In this circumstance, it appears that our high standards of customer service were not met and we would like to apologise to our customer for this.

“We have spoken to the retail site in question about this matter and asked they take a more common sense approach in the future.”

Extracted in full from the Sunshine Coast Daily.