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Petrol Station Leap Day Glitch: A 'Head-Scratching' Task

The company that supplies self-service payment to petrol stations says there is no doubt some motorists would have been left "running on fumes" when a leap day glitch saw its software fail.

The outage affected stations such as BP and Gull that have unmanned petrol stations on Thursday, 29 February.

Head of product for Invenco John Scott said it took some "head scratching" for staff to work out what the problem was.

It was soon realised it was an issue with the date - one that only comes around every four years.


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Scott told Morning Report a piece of code was identified as the issue and corrected. But it saw its systems down across the country for about 14 hours - only coming back online around 7pm.

Scott said it was a "bad day" and a lot of people had been let down.

Many would have been able to drive to another petrol station that had in-store payment available, but he had no doubt some drivers would have been near empty when they arrived at the station to fuel up and would have been caught out.

He also accepted it may have had a flow-on effect for truckies being able to continue their work - but he did not have all the details yet.

Scott confirmed the issue was specific to New Zealand and said he spent Thursday fielding calls from companies across the country to find out if the issue would impact them as well.

During Invenco's problem solving, staff questioned how this issue occurred when it had been operating for 15 years and had never happened on a leap day in the past.

Scott said the issue was introduced during a recent software upgrade - but would not happen again after being corrected.

Invenco supplies software to approximately 80 to 90 percent of stations around the country - about 1200 sites.

He confirmed there would be no issues getting fuel today.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said motorists and freight operators would have been very frustrated by the disruption.

"It is frustrating for consumers that the companies' systems have failed to account for February the 29th. Leap years come around every four years and are nothing new.

"I am hopeful that the companies will be able to find a fix to this issue sooner rather than later."

Gull told its customers it would have a Discount Day next week to make up for any inconvenience caused by the outage.

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