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Fuel storm drivers to get compensation payout

By Emily Moulton

Motorists who bought fuel from a south Belfast filling station at the centre of an alleged contaminated fuel controversy have received compensation for the damage it caused to their cars.

Over the past two days a number of motorists have contacted this newspaper claiming that their vehicles broke down after they purchased fuel from the DayToday Mount Merrion Service Station.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Trading Standards Service said it was investigating a series of complaints regarding allegedly contaminated fuel.

And HM Revenue and Customs said it had “visited a retail site in the Belfast area” on Friday and that the matter had been referred to Trading Standards.

Efforts were made by the Belfast Telegraph to contact the management of the station but staff refused to disclose any details or answer any of our questions.

According to a number of people we spoke, some vehicles have been so badly damaged that their owners have had to replace the entire fuel system costing them almost £2,000.

Yesterday some of those motorists said they were contacted by a station representative advising them to head down to the Rosetta Road premises after 6pm to collect their money.

However it is understood only those who could produce fuel purchase receipts as well as a repair receipt were called.

Martin McCrory who was one of the lucky few to be reimbursed. He said that he had been trying to get in touch with the owner of the site for the past few days after his four-month-old Peugeot broke down minutes after he filled his car with fuel from the station last week.

However every time he tried to “get answers” he said he was met with a “brick wall”. Mr McCrory purchased £20 of fuel from the site on Thursday, October 23, 2008.

He claims that he managed to travel just seven miles down the road before it broke down. He said at first he did not know what was wrong with his relatively new car until he was told by his dealership that it was the fuel.

“We did not know what was wrong with the car,” he said. “At first I thought it was electrical or mechanical, that it might be something to do with it being a new car. It’s only four months old.

“But the guys at the service centre then told me it was the fuel.”

Mechanics at his dealership drained the fuel from his car, flushed the system and replaced the fuel filter. It cost Mr McCrory £265.

He said when he contacted the staff at the service station telling them he had been told that it was the fuel that was the cause of the problem, they refused to acknowledge any liability.

However, yesterday he was contacted by a woman representing the service station and told he would be reimbursed.

When he asked what was wrong with the fuel he claims the assistant told him “there was water in the fuel”.

The Belfast Telegraph confronted staff about the complaints and the compensation exchange.

However, the assistant refused to comment.

Mr McCrory said he was pleased he had been reimbursed, but was disgusted by the way he and other customers had been treated.

Joe McConnell, who owns Acclaim Driving Academy on the Ormeau Road, claims one of his vehicles has been affected by allegedly contaminated fuel bought from the forecourt.

The south Belfast businessman has 80 cars on his books and many of his drivers would fill up at the Rosetta Road station. He claims one of his drivers filled up at the station last Wednesday and took the car out on Thursday morning. However, he only managed to travel a few miles before breaking down.

Mr McConnell claims the mechanics who fixed the car told him it had contaminated fuel. All of the bad fuel from the Ford Fiesta had to be cleared out and four fuel injectors, a belt and the fuel pump all had to be replaced.

It cost Mr McConnell £1,844.79.

“I feel really betrayed. My guys fill up there every day. When I contacted the station they refused to speak to me,” he said. Another motorist, Alex White, also claims his Ford Mondeo broke down after buying fuel from the Rosetta Road filling station last Thursday.

He is facing a £1,000 bill to fix his car.

A spokeswoman for Trading Standards Service said it was investigating a series of complaints regarding allegedly contaminated fuel.

“A number of complaints have been received about allegedly contaminated fuel, and these complaints are currently being investigated,” she said.

A spokesman from HM Revenue and Customs said: “We visited a retail site in the Belfast area on Friday, but the matter has now been passed into|the hands of Trading Standards.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said that they received a report on October 23 from a member of the public who claimed that after they had purchased fuel from a petrol station on Rosetta Road, it started to experience problems.

“We then reported it to Customs and Excise,” she added.

Belfast Telegraph


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