The Sunday Times says

The truth does not lie online always

In hindsight, the online controversy over an incident involving a BMW driver and a pump attendant was almost destined to take on class overtones. Here, apparently, was the driver of a luxury car who had allegedly asked for a full tank at a petrol station but then refused to pay the $135 bill because he claimed to have asked for only $10 worth of petrol. The elderly pump attendant, clearly not among the most well-off in Singapore, offered to pay the remaining $125 in order to avoid a dispute. An online post about the incident went viral and infuriated netizens, many of whom immediately jumped to ideological conclusions.

The incident could have served as the basis of an excellent morality play on the ugliness of a boorish society - except that it was not all that it was portrayed to be. The vehicle owner was due to trade in his car that day and so did not want to fill in more fuel than necessary. The police established that it was a case of miscommunication. The attendant was also not out of pocket for the difference in the end. Meanwhile, the driver filed a police report as he worried for the safety of his family after he was identified by netizens .


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 29, 2018, with the headline 'The truth does not lie online always'. Print Edition | Subscribe