Differences on how one purchases petrol
The differences between how one fuels one's car are quite pronounced, between California and Australia.
Firstly, if you're paying with plastic, it's a given that you can pay at the pump. I could count on my hands the number of times I've had to walk into a gas station to pay for gas in the US. Having a small child, I was not looking forward to having to either leave her in the car so I could pay for my petrol, or having to deal with all of the rigmarole of getting her out of her car seat, just so she can accompany me inside the petrol station to make a brief transaction and then have to get her back into her car seat again.
Not to mention how it drags out the whole process. Yesterday I had to wait for a pump while everyone leaves their car, queues inside to pay a single cashier, and then returns to their car and drives away. It'd be an interesting Productivity Commission report to see how much time is lost, just so people can be tempted by the high-margin items inside.
Then there's pumping the petrol. California, being all hippy, requires all the fuel nozzles to have these fandangled "vapour recovery" things, which basically fit over the part of the pump that goes inside the fuel tank and does some sort of, well, vapour recovery. The upside, you're not sniffing fumes while you're pumping your petrol.
The other fabulous thing about Californian fuel pumps is you can lock the handle down, so you don't have to stand there like a shag on a rock squeezing the handle while a $100 trickles into your car. You can get back in your car and listen to the radio. Or clean your windscreen. Or entertain your kid. I'd love to know why Australian pumps don't lock on any more. I have memories from my early childhood of them locking on.
So yeah, I think Australians lose out quite badly when it comes to the petrol station experience.
I was pleased to discover that the Woolworths branded Caltex petrol stations seem to have some sort of pay at the pump infrastructure, it just requires you to have their specific credit card or something. I need to do more research, because if I can pay at the pump, I will.