A Bexhill family left distressed and out of pocket claim the diesel pump at a service station filled their car with petrol instead.
Andreas Charka filled up his Hyundai seven-seater car at the Pevensey Service Station, on Battle Road, at 4.46am on Friday, May 8, while on his way to work in London.
However, the car broke down just a short while later and upon taking it to the garage, it was found to have fuel contamination.
Mr Charka’s wife, Kay, said: “After we found out the car had fuel contamination, we checked our receipt, but it does say on it that the product purchased was diesel.
“We rang the service station and they also confirmed that CCTV showed my husband picking up and using the diesel pump at the station.
“ESSO are denying all responsibility for the fault but for my husband to fill up a full tank and then break down with fuel contamination is not a coincidence. The timeline fits and we have evidence.
“I’m waiting to hear back about whether the car is a write-off or not.
“The whole thing has been so stressful. I’ve had to cancel doctor’s appointments and haven’t been able to take my twin boys to nursery as it’s not within walking distance.
“If I know I’m going to be reimbursed, I would take taxis but I can’t afford to if I’m not going to get the money back.
“The evidence we have supplied has been enough for the insurance company to be convinced it was a third-party fault, and they will pay out, but we’ve incurred so many added costs as a knock-on effect of this which we won’t get back.”
A spokesman for ESSO said: “While we sympathise with Mrs Charka and her family for the problems she is currently experiencing with her car, we have no reason to believe our fuel was the cause of the problems with her vehicle.
“Fuel mix-ups or crossovers are extremely rare, but when they do occur they affect several vehicles.
“We have supplied thousands of litres of supreme diesel from the pump used by Mrs Charka’s husband both before and since he filled up at our service station, and no-one else has reported any problems.
“Furthermore, when fuel mix-ups take place, any vehicles that fill up with affected fuel breakdown either on the forecourt or close by. It would be most unusual for any car so affected to drive for an hour or more before problems occurred.
“In the light of Mrs Charka’s concern we have, simply as a precautionary measure, closed pump three temporarily and arranged for the supreme diesel fuel from the pump to be tested independently for any contamination.
“We have committed to get back to Mrs Charka with the test results.”
Mr and Mrs Charka are now hoping other people who may have been affected by the problem will come forward.
Mrs Charka added: “We have spoken to a specialist who has said other people may have also been contaminated but not yet realise – it would depend on the level of contamination in the fuel and the model and age of the vehicle.
“It’s quite possible that the fuel was only partly contaminated and as my husband filled up a full tank, he received the brunt of the contamination, meaning others who used the pump after him may have not had seen such a sudden effect.
“As he used the pump so early in the morning, there probably wouldn’t have been that many other cars using the station at that time. We’ve asked our insurers to view the CCTV to see whether the station changed the fuel in the pump between us using it and it being investigated.
“While I wouldn’t wish this stress on anyone, I really hope someone else comes forward so that ESSO can finally accept responsibility for this fault.”
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