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Why TotalEnergies wants to put pump attendants back in its service stations

It is the return to favor of a profession which had disappeared from the landscape in France.

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Why TotalEnergies wants to put pump attendants back in its service stations

It is the return to favor of a profession which had disappeared from the landscape in France. For several weeks, pump attendants have returned to the forefront, while TotalEnergies recently announced its ambition to recruit several hundred of them by 2024. A way, for the energy company, to strengthen its “proximity” with his clients.

If it was still common to meet these professionals in small rural stations, often backed by garages, it was very rare to come across them in Paris and the inner suburbs. TotalEnergies therefore wanted, from 2020, to organize their return to the city, we explain internally. The initiative was then “stopped in its tracks with Covid”, in a “difficult recruitment” context. It will finally be relaunched with great fanfare this fall, with “around a hundred stations” affected out of the 3,400 that the group has in France. By 2024, the ambition is to double their number, to “reach 300 stations” equipped with this service.

“We have very good feedback,” we assure you in the corridors of the French oil company, particularly enthusiastic at the idea of ​​honoring this outdated profession. The group also sees it as a way to stand out from its main competitors. And to explain: “There is first of all a notion of security, very appreciated by customers, coupled with a notion of service”. For customers, who “enjoy having human contact”, it is also the assurance of finding someone welcoming, who refuels for them free of charge, gives advice, “helps with use station equipment” or checks the windshield washer level.

If it is TotalEnergies which chooses which stations will be concerned, the manager of the gas station is free to refuse. The French giant wishes to favor “stations in urban areas” where there is often “less human contact than stations in rural areas which are, for example, backed by garages”. Professionals "find what they're looking for", it is claimed: in the TotalEnergies station in Drancy (Seine-Saint-Denis), customers are ready to make a detour to take advantage of this service, according to the company, at point of seeing its turnover increase. The pump attendant must in fact inform customers about “the products available in store and current promotions”, a means of advertising to customers.

Faced with criticism from some, who question in particular the working conditions of these pump attendants, the group responds without batting an eyelid that all will be “employees of TotalEnergies on permanent contracts, paid a little more than the minimum wage”. And to congratulate himself: “We have varied profiles, with young people but also seniors who come to supplement their income”.

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Others are delighted with the return of this profession, like Francis Pousse. The national president of the fuel and new energy distributor branch of the Mobilians union takes a very positive view of this announcement, these professionals making it possible to “reinforce the attraction” of customers for service stations as well as “the social bond that we lack cruelly today. However, the one whose organization represents no less than 5,800 traditional stations recalls that this service has always remained available “in our stations”. “We have always served the 85-year-old lady who has difficulty moving,” he explains.

This is not the first time that the ambition to perpetuate this service has been announced, according to Francis Pousse, who mentions “different attempts over time”. These did not necessarily succeed. “So much the better if we go back,” he says, well aware that in addition to the service aspect, “there is a real business behind it,” with pump attendants who “may be required to do commercial proposals. “But it’s a first step towards better things, I can’t say the opposite,” he concludes.

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