Why remove your helmet at a service station?

Fuel service station helmet motorcycle tank ethanol Trump e15

Australian service stations can legally refuse to serve you fuel if you don’t remove your helmet, but very few provide anywhere safe for you to place your helmet while you fill up.

The owners say it’s for safety reasons, but really it’s so you don’t ride off without paying, which is happening more frequently. In the US, most gas stations require you to pay first!

If you feel offended by the lack of trust, you only have the thieves to thank for this get-tough attitude.

Some argue that open-face and flip-up helmets provide facial identification for security cameras.

However, legal experts tell us the owners have the final say on their private property.

They say it is the same as a night club that won’t let you in if you are wearing thongs.

All you can do is refuse to give them your business and move on.

But if the servo doesn’t have any warning signs about removing your helmet and they start the pump, then go for it!

That’s fine if you pay at the bowser, but if you need to enter their premises to pay, they can still refuse to let you in until you remove your helmet.

That’s understandable given the amount of violent robberies at servos. I know I would not let anyone in if I was the working the cash register solo late at night! Would you?

If they don’t let you in, you are then within your legal right to ride away without paying and you may have the defence that you tried to pay but were rejected. But you could be on shaky ground there.

Courteous service stations

Fuel service station helmet
Filling up at Garry McCoy’s GMC servo at Cooyar

There are still some servos that let you use the pump without taking off your helmet.

GP legend Garry McCoy owns the GMC servo at Cooyar on the Darling Downs and naturally they don’t mind if you fill up while wearing your helmet.

I’ve found a few other servos that are also courteous to riders, probably because they now know me.

Country servos are often the most forgiving.

Nowhere to store helmet

However, most service stations don’t offer much in the way of service with nowhere safe to store your helmet while I’m filling up.

Helmets cost from a few hundred dollars up to more than $1000. So the last thing you want to do is leave them where they can get dirty, filled with petrol fumes, or fall and get damaged.

Yet most bowser tops these days have advertising signs on top, preventing you from placing your helmet there.

Nowhere to place your helmet on the top of the bowser at a service station
Nowhere to place your helmet on the top of the bowser at a service station

Not every bike has a safe place to hang a helmet. I’ve seen many helmets roll off mirrors, footpegs and bike seats.

Consequently riders are forced to place their helmet on top of a dirty bin or on the ground. (Never put your helmet on the ground as ants, spiders and other insects can crawl in and give you a nasty surprise down the road!)

If they can’t offer the simple “service” of providing somewhere to put your helmet, they shouldn’t be called a “service station“.

We suggest you buy one of those carabiner-style hooks so you can quickly and safely fasten your helmet to your bike.

39 Comments

  1. Why are people so precious about taking off a helmet when enterring a store????? Its quite simple to do. Would you let someone into your home if you can’t see their face? Same goes for businesses, its a safety issue, fuel stations are legally within their rights to ask you to remove it when enterring. Don’t like it, go somewhere else and don’t be such a dick, .

    1. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with safety and the comparison between a servo and someone’s home is absurd. As an ex-cop, I can tell u servos have more to fear from people entering their stores wearing beanies and sunnies and/or hoodies than they ever have had compared to anyone wearing their motorcycle helmet – so the safety argument is rubbish. Further, there is NO legal right to demand anyone take off their helmet and there are NO legal identity requirements for entering servos. Contrary to some opinions already given on this site, even though a service station might be privately owned, when open for business, it’s a public place and anyone is completely entitled to leave their helmet on when entering the public place/shop to pay for their fuel or simply just to look around. It remains a matter of personal choice as to whether any rider removes their helmet and those who choose not to shouldn’t be criticised by others who make inaccurate comments. Yes, it’s easy to just to take your helmet off and avoid any possible arguments and unpleasantness but there is NO law in effect to force a rider to do so when it comes to servos. Servos are indeed lawfully entitled to ask you many things as free speech provides but there is no law that empowers them to demand helmet removal.

  2. I’ve been using a carabiner hook attached to my gear bags handle, for my helmet for years, no need to leave your helmet on the ground or accidentally knock it off your seat. Best couple of bucks Ive ever spent.

  3. I am an age pensioner and ride a 100cc postmans bike. I wear an open face helmet. I have been refused service via an intercom for not taking off my helmet at one service station and given delay tactics and then told to take off my helmet next time, at another service station.

    The attendants, both young females spoke as if they were enforcing a law, but they are only enforcing a store policy. A wonder if any of them know there are more laws enforcing the wearing of the helmet on the bike, than taking it off in the store.

    I have had nerve disease for 10 years and cancer for 2 years. I live in a tropical area and taking a helmet off in extreme heat and then getting blasted in the head by an air conditioner, is quite painful for me.
    My open face helmet shows the same view of my face as my drivers licence, but do you think common sense might prevail and I could just produce my ID and leave my helmet on. No, too much to expect.

    I am expected to take off my helmet, put on a fishing hat that looks like a burqua to protect my head, get the petrol, pay for it and then put the helmet on again. All this for $2 worth of fuel.

    1. Shops cannot refuse service because of a helmet. Anti-discrimination laws prohibit it.
      Licensed shops have different laws.
      Check it out yourself.

  4. Mark, since you have suggested service stations have a legal right not to serve petrol if you don’t take your helmet off, would you please enlighten me (and I suspect others) as to the actual legislation (either State or Federal) that confirms your assertion.

    1. Hi Peter,
      It’s private property, so they have the right to refuse to turn on the pump and accept your money if you don’t remove your helmet.
      However, they can’t make you remove your helmet. You have the right to leave your helmet on, but you may not get served.
      Cheers,
      Mark

      1. I worked as a covert in shopping centres, it is a revoke of invatation. Every one is invited to the store, shop, servo but if you dont do as per the rules your invatation will be revoked. Bag checks, you dont have to present your bag on the way out but if you refuse you can have your invatation removed and not be able to enter the store again.

        1. Its a matter of contract law and invitation to treat.
          For a contract to be binding ther needs to be 3 elements satisfied. They are Offer (the offer to sell fuel), Acceptance of the terms of the Offer (but what are the full terms of the offer?) and Consideration (or payment) needs to occur or exist.

          So the offer is made if the servo is open, and a reasonable person in the circumstances construes that if the pumps are open then and operating, and you are not hindered in pulling up to the bowser, detaching the handle and moving to the next phase of the transaction. The next step is acceptance – this is where you are accepting THE KNOWN terms of the transaction (this is important) and so you ride in and go through the motions of filling up. So you then go to pay. The details of this are apparent to a reasonable person (its against the law to steal fuel so you know you have to pay. The bowser tells you how much to pay based on a register of the litres taken and the cost per litre. So in you go. And this is the final action needed – Consideration is the term for the exchange of value. Now here is the rub. It is generally ONLY at the door to the building that you are advised of a NEW term to the contract. That is that you have to do something extra to complete the transaction – they want you to take off your helmet (or in the casse of car drivers they want you to take off your sunnies, Burkha, hoodie or whatever..). Herein lies the issue. Youhave the right AT THAT POINT to reject the terms of the offer and the contract is voidable at your discretion because the vendor has in effect made a new term for the contract that you might not have been aware of. So you are within your right to either A/continue in leaving your helmet on and proceed to the counter to complete your part of the contract on the terms you originally accepted or B/ Return the fuel to the supplier and leave or C/ Ask for an alternative form of consideration transfer (go to an after hours counter window if hey have one). The legal way around all this is simple – all the servo needs to do is advertise AT THE ENTRANCE IN A SIGN THE SAME SIZE AS THE PRICE INDICATION SIGN that it is a CONDITION OF ENTRY TO THE PAYMENT AREA that a rider removes their helmet such that a full view of their face is visible. The same would be needed for other requirements such as needing to remove other forms of facial cloaking like sunnies, hoodies, and so on. BTW – there is no “law” that requires motorcyclists to remove helmets at anytime when entering a building or confined precinct unless the building management advertises that requirement AT THE POINT OF ENTERING THE PRECINCT. It deosn’t revoke the invitation to treat or the invitation to enter the precinct because you cannot introduce a new term to a contract as the contract continues. Similar to bag checks where signs indicate AT THE POINT OF ENTRY that you may have to submit to a bag check on the way out. The bagcheck is only legal at the point of exit if the customer was advised on the way into the store thus it is a term of entry condition. If that wasn’t the case then you could in theory introduce a condition of exit that said you have to walk out the store naked. That would be fine if you knew about that condition at the point and time you walked in but if the only advise of this term was made available to you at the back of the store and the store security relied on the existence of that sign to spport the direction for you to strip then that would be not in the original invitation to enter and thus not a contractual term. Just sayin….

  5. There is a servo near me that you swipe your card at the bowser, no need to take the helmet off or have to go in and interact with the fake personality of an indian saying would you like to buy a kit kat two for one. (Nothing against indians they just seem to be at every servo)

    I agree with Rider dismount for fueling, there would be nothing worse than a hi octane crotch.

    I have a fire retardent balaclava i can leave on if any smart arse asks me to remove my lid.
    Im so hanging out to do a pauline and wear a burka though lol.

    Happy riding and remember you cant educate idiots and we cant put brains in statues, never assume 😉

  6. So helmets are a No, but beenie and reflective sunglasses are ok, balaclava ok, burka etc ok? Good grief oil companies: get real
    Also, why would any vendor reject your obligation to make payment when you unthreateningly approach the till point to give them your money just because of what you are wearing?

  7. Had a servo refuse to serve me unless my partner dismounted from pillion position on our ultra classic. Drove off in disgust. That’s like asking the passenger in a car to get out. My partner is not that mobile but they didn’t care.

  8. Utter discrimination and double standards, and a total infringement on my rights. If I see a no helmet sticker on the fuel pump itself, and I have enough gas left to get to the next gas station, then these assholes just lost a sale and a customer forever.
    Once the pump monkey has reset the pump while I’m still wearing my helmet, he’s initiated a sale contract, under the terms as they are now, i.e. my helmet was on. My sole legal responsibility now is to pay for the fuel I have purchased, the gas station attendant has no rights to change the contract after the fact.
    Also, if more of the gas stations actually had or had working pay-at-the pump credit card readers, I’d never even set foot inside so they need to spend the money to upgrade their outdated infrastructure if they don’t want riders coming into the shop area.

  9. I’m still pretty pissed off about today’s incident at my local Woolworth/Caltex. After filling up and standing in a queue for some time I was not asked but TOLD to remove my helmet. At this point I already tapped my credit card on the electronic pad and payment was accepted. Now a second attendant thought it necessary to put his 5 cents worth in and started lying about some f…ing law. Liar!! I told them both to Fcuk off and left pissed off and disgusted that some scum vermin would find it necessary to get involved in my life and try to exercise some petty little authority which they don’t even have. This is not about security or inconvenience or what ever else. This is about my personal freedom and my personal space! I didn’t threaten anyone, filled up, stood in the queue like an orderly citizen, and paid for my goods. I just don’t need this shit in my life and yes, it is discrimination. Do I sound pissed off? That’s because I am 🙂

    1. some of the staff are just showing off to feel empowered. it’s totally annoying >:(
      especially after you have already had approved transaction.

  10. I don’t care one way or the other, but it does piss me off when i get told to remove my helmet and a postie pulls up along side me and fills his postie bike up with his helmet ON!

    1. Peter Pugh, it is part of the uniform for Posties. Besides they fill up regularly at the same servo, daily, so the attendants know the guys, especially out in the bush!!

  11. This is a bug bear for me. If you want me to remove my flip face, then put a sign at the bowser, not 25m away on the front door.

    Now I recently took this to the anti-descrimination commission. If the servo operator asks you to remove your helmet as a security issue, whatever, tell them to bugger off. If your helmet was on when they reset the bowser, they accepted your custom. All they can do is refuse to take you payment. Having your wallet in hand helps here. Ask them if “they are refusing to take your payment?” If they say yes, leave. They just gave you free fuel.

    Now you come unstuck when they say that they feel threatened. This is the technical description of an assualt. At this point, suck it up, take off your helmet and pay up, the police about to get involved, and while you haven’t done anything wrong, the LEO’s will be as pissed at you as the service station attendant for wasting their time.

    Now there is an interesting clause here. If the service station attendant asks you to remove it for security issues, ask them if they believe your going to rob them. If they respond “maybe”, and providing you don’t look like aSi s of Anarchy number one fan, they have technically breeched the anti-discrimination act for stereotyping you as a murderering robbing 1%er. If your dressed like a power ranger on your cafe racer, they have a hard case to make. Politely point out they they have just breeched the anti-des rumination act and could you have their name to lodge a complaint, or would they like to just accept your payment and part ways?

    If you push the issue with a helmet that doesn’t obscure your face, you’ll usually find by the time it reaches the state manager, the site manager got a kicking. Respect the service station operators decision if they have a sign on the bowser, simply ride away to the next one. Remember they aren’t in the right the moment they reset that bowser if your wearing your helmet, however, sometimes it’s simply not worth arguing with someone on minimum wage.

  12. Another question worth asking is how come service stations are allowed to use the police
    as de-facto security staff?, I bet if one of the supermarkets had one operator stuck in a booth
    with all its goods stuck out on the street, with instructions to call the police if anyone pinched
    anything.
    They would be told to get their own security real quick. In fact it is illegal for private citizens to even
    leave their car unlocked ,or us to leave the key in the ignition. Fact is that apart from being screwed by their
    cartel behaviour our taxes are being used to compensate for their lack of security and improve their bottom line

  13. just the number plate works fine for a speed cameras
    just returned from victoria and looking at the difference
    in fuel prices to qld , i reckon the biggest thieves are on the other
    side of the cash register

  14. I’ve had an attendant at one of my local servos refuse to start the pump until I removed my helmet (which is a flip open touring type) even though I had previously filled up there plenty of times wearing the exact same helmet. When I asked her what the problem was, as she (and the cameras) could see my face, she said they needed to see hair colouring as well in case of an incident.

    Now, I have a Helmet Hook and don’t even bother trying to get away with leaving it on. I just take it off my head and hang it on the hook conveniently hanging from my bar end. Easy. No greasy mess from the ground and no risk of having my helmet fall off the bike.

    Yes, I sell the helmet hook, but this is not a sales pitch, it really is a handy little thing. I was promoting them well before I ended up selling them. Check them out, I am sure you will agree it is incredibly handy once you start using one.

      1. Hi Mark. It certainly is pretty handy.
        I can definitely send you some to give away, do a review on, etc.
        Send me a quick email with how many you want and a postal address and I will get on to it.
        Cheers.
        Bill 🙂

    1. Hi Bill, I bought one of your helmet hooks.. Best handy little device I ever got. I also hang my jacket with my helmet by the coat hook raps nicely around the helmet it locks the whole thing up.
      Back pack bags.. yeap I hang it by the top handle keeps it off the ground 🙂

  15. It depends in my case if i am in a hurry my helmet stays on full stop no if’s or buts.
    I had a argument in the city (Sydney) one time so i just stood there while the other customers(about 6) were waiting behind i had my money in my hand and just stood there till the cashier took it.
    i just love the country people are more open and understand.

  16. I have never had any problem with leaving it on my seat when my bum was not on it! This is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  17. I don’t like having to take my helmet off either and I would think that number plates are sufficient identification to deal with non-payers. But I’m not that fussed about lack of places to put my helmet down, heck most places you stop don’t have such facilities so what do you do? I put mine on the ground, it seems to work quite well 🙂

    1. Hi Andrew,
      If you put your helmet n the ground, make sure there is no fuel, oil or creepy crawlies. The former two will damage your helmet and make it smell and the latter might cause an accident down the road if they make themselves known!
      Cheers,
      Mark

  18. Ok, most times that I pull into a servo, I’m going to be having a break, have a smoke, stretch out the old bod, so happy to remove the lid. But there are times, particularly when on the way to work in the morning when I’m not so happy to remove it.

    I don’t wish to start up some religious hatred, intolerance crap, however if its about equality, then why are women of middle eastern origin not asked to remove their head dress, and Indian men not asked to remove theirs. My shark evoline helmet in the open mode, exposes enough to identify me. With all the techno CCTV dotted around most servo’s they have my rego.

    Oh that’s right, its because they can claim it as part of their right to exercise their chosen religion, yes? Silly me.
    Well if it’s got anything to do with equality, motorcycling is my religion, if they don’t want my money I’m happy to oblige and go somewhere else.

    Hippocratic B/S at it’s very best.

    1. I wrote to Caltex CEO on having to remove your helmet at service stations, replied saying it was a security thing and it was their policy to do so. I also included that certain Middle Eastern people do not take their head gear off and could be a security risk, it’s ok for religious purpose was stated, if one group of people are allowed to wear total head coverings and motorcycleists have to remove helmets it is discrimination to one group and not the other if one removes their helmets so should the others to be fair.

  19. I am starting to get a bit uptight about so called service stations. I can’t say I have ever been hassled about taking my helmet off but I have been hassled several times about dismounting before refueling. Apparently the service station is concerned about my safety (God luv um). I do agree that places to put helmets and helmet visor cleaning stations would be far more beneficial then this other needless crap.

    1. I’ve worked servo’s and there are two good reasons to dismount before filling: 1. If for some reason your fueling up starts a fire, you’re going to jump off and fuel is going too spill everywhere and kaboom goes the fireball including you. 2. If the bike is stable on the stand, it’s less likely to have any mishaps before the cap goes back on. Just saying,,,,

  20. If they want to refuse service because I don’t take off my helmet.
    That’s fine.
    But don’t refuse to take my money at the checkout until I take off my helmet
    .As far as I’m concerned if they in the building start the fuel flowing while I’m holding the nozzle in my tank then service has been agreed to.
    Even if I have my helmet still on.
    They can’t then say I have to remove my helmet to pay.
    Imagine asking for a bottle of water in the servo. They hand it too you then ask you remove your helmet to pay for it. Same thing.

  21. I don’t mind removing my helmet. I usually fill up at the local Shell service station, and they have new bowsers with plenty of room to sit my helmet.

    The thing that is annoying is the $1.06 for petrol, that is cheap! Need those prices up here in Townsville.

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