Living on an island and the honour system

Ireland’s first card operated service station has just opened on the Aran islands. Eamon O’Cuiv was the man who cut the ribbon at the official ceremony.

“The station provides the islanders with diesel at present and I believe that one tank has been earmarked for biofuels, for when they become commercially viable on the island.”

The Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs said the station will be unmanned and members of the public will be able to refuel and pay at pumps using special cards, details of which have yet to be revealed.

Intrigued at the mention of these “special cards”. Presumably islanders will be issued with a card that they swipe on filling up and settle their bill later. I wonder will the cards only release the pump mechanism once swiped or will an honour system be employed? An honour system would allow an islander to fill up, swipe the card and enter how much you filled up by.

Coincidentally, I was listening to a recent edition of Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4 that covered the subject of the honour system. It reported on a Strawberry farm in England which had to close down after 50 years in operation. Greedy and dishonest people were eating strawberries in the fields rather than picking them and paying. £10,000 worth of strawberries were stolen – 1/4 of the crop.

At the other end of the scale was a caravan park that has a shop for customers that is open 24 hours a day. People get what they want from the shop and write it all down in a book and pay at the end of their stay. A really nice idea but one which assumes that most people can be trusted. It works for the caravan park but sadly, it’s doubtful if it would work beyond a small community type setting.

Think back a few years when most supermarkets allowed us to weigh our own fruit and veg. Presumably they were losing so much money due to pilfering that they brought it to an end. Maybe there was another reason, but I can’t think of one.

It’s very sad to see a business have to close down because of dishonest people. Even sadder is the fact that the small minority (or maybe it is a large minority) responsible for it probably didn’t see any wrong in what they did.


  1. I always thought that the checkout weighing was to make it more convenient for the customer – no need to weigh things, no embarrassing moments where you forgot to weigh something and the cashier has to run off and weigh it. I suppose once the scales were cheap enough they were installed at every till. What’s the advantage of weighing fruit yourself?

    Shame about the strawberry farm though.

  2. I’d heard it was people were putting in extra once they had weighed the product which was hitting the bottom line with supermarkets.

    I like to know how much my veg is going to cost before I get to the checkout + with the self service systems in Tesco it slows people down when they have to go looking for the product on the screen, can’t find it and then have to wait for the operator to come over etc.

  3. There is a great little restaurant in London called ‘Just Around the Corner’ and there’s no prices, you decide how much the meal, wine, champagne whatever you’re having yourself comes to! They’ve been open for years and it’s working for them.

    Honesty is the best policy after all!

  4. That sounds like a great idea Eileen – I guess it would work in a situation like that. Just this morning I flew in to Spar to get a quick cuppa and thought wouldn’t it be great if they had a box by the tea machine where you could just leave the money if you were in a hurry

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