Counting 130 cars in queue

Yesterday (25 Oct 2009), Shell organised this promotion to launch/introduce their new line of petrol called FuelSave. The promotion is a 1 day only event, from 10am to 6pm at almost all Shell stations around Singapore (only some of those industrial area ones were left out). FuelSave 95 or 98 sold at $1 per litre. For comparisons, current petrol price was $1.767 and $1.90 for RON 95 and 98 respectively.

For us, we’re normally supporters of Caltex due to our OCBC Titanium card which gives us 12% off at Caltex. And I tend to think Caltex petrol with techron technology gives our car engine a ‘smoother’ feeling. But $1 per litre was just too good to ignore. And since our tank sits at around 40% full, we stand to make some good savings with this promo. Furthermore, I’ve never pumped anything other than RON92 before, so I thot it was a good chance to try out higher grade petrol for a change.

Oh, but we had a small constrain. Our OPC car can only leave the house at 3pm. Ok, so let’s hope that they still have petrol left in their station tanks by late afternoon. We’ll set off at around 3pm, wait in queue (there was no doubt that there will be a queue) for about 30 minutes, then set off to our destination for shopping and to attend a wedding event at night. Or so that’s what we thought.

We woke up at 3pm from our afternoon nap. :P We washed up and got ready to leave the house. We set off at 4pm and drove to our nearby Shell station at Bt Batok Road. Oh, there’s already a queue. That’s expected, no worries. We also saw numerous station helpers to direct traffic and organise the car queue. Nice.

We drove along Bt Batok Road to find the end of the queue. Hmm… no end in sight! We passed the first U-turn point and the queue didn’t end. Somewhere further down the road, we spotted the last car in line and so we made a U-turn at the next traffic junction. Wow! The queue was longer than expected, we probably needed to wait for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

We took up our position and inched forward. 15 minutes into our wait and Dear2 counted that we’ve moved about 10 car lengths. Why is it so slow? When is it going to be our turn? We might be trapped in this queue for longer than we expected. Is it even worth the wait? How much can we save from this? We still want to go shopping before the dinner event u know… Many questions raced across our minds.

We give up!

Turn on the right signal, change lane, get out of the queue, and we decided to do more meaningful things with our Saturday afternoon than to waste our time waiting. As we drove past down the line, Dear2 began counting the number of cars in the queue. I slowed down to a comfortable speed so that Dear2 can keep up with the counting. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10… 64, 66, 68… 98, 100, 102… 126, 128, 130! O_O

There was about 130 cars in queue, and about 10-14 cars within the station itself. OMG. If we had only moved 5 car lengths in 15 minutes, we would still be queuing when the sky turns dark. And taking into account that the promotion only lasted up 6pm, we were most likely going to miss the cutoff timing for the $1 per litre promotion anyway. Can you imagine waiting for 2 hours or more only to discover that promotion is over and having to pay normal price?!

Maybe this marketing event can be improved a bit. First, the long queues caused traffic jams, especially in the city areas. Second, turnover time is still quite long. Maybe they can try a redemption coupon kind of thing? Go to any Shell station, get a coupon, redeem anytime within the next 2 days. Sure, the current promotion stirred up quite a big hoohaa (and traffic jams), and they’re getting all the (bad?) attention/publicity. The redemption scheme probably won’t have the same impact.

We were glad that we decided to abandon this useless waste of weekend time. What can one do in a car for 2 hours anyway? And think about the petrol wasted while waiting in line.

We had a great time afterwards, window shopping and meeting up with old friends. And we’re going back to Caltex for our no-frills, zero waiting time, 12% discount.



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