In conformist Britain, anything unusual is assumed to be illegal

Supermarket manager bans man for buying gallons of vegetable oil to power his delivery van claiming it is 'illegal'. I had similar experiences of British rigidity in Britain back in the '70s, as you can read here. No wonder many people from Britain and other Northern European countries migrate to easygoing Australia to get away from all the social rigidities and expectations -- JR

A grocer claims supermarket staff banned him from his local store after he bought vegetable oil to use as fuel in his vehicle. Chris Waites says managers at his local Tesco in Didcot, Oxfordshire, told him it was illegal for him to buy vegetable oil and use it as fuel in his delivery van.

He claims the ban came after he purchased six five-litre bottles of vegetable oil to fill up the van he uses for his grocery business. The transit van has been adapted to run on vegetable oil. It is not thought to be illegal to purchase vegetable oil to be used as bio fuel.

Mr Waites said he clashed with staff at the store when he bought the bottles of oil and told them what he was using it for.

Tesco said it was investigating the matter and stressed that it does not prevent customers from buying products.

He said when he returned to the supermarket on Saturday to buy other items, he was told he was no longer welcome because using vegetable oil to run a vehicle was a criminal activity. He said: 'A member of staff told me in front of lots of other customers that I was no longer welcome at the store because I had been using vegetable oil illegally for my van.

'Using vegetable oil to run a vehicle is not illegal and it was embarrassing to be branded a criminal in this way in front of lots of other shoppers.

'Normally we get given the vegetable oil free from pubs and restaurants but on this occasion I’d gone to Tesco.

'We deliver groceries to people in rural areas but I can’t imagine Tesco are trying to stop me from using my van because they feel threatened by the competition.'

Mr Waites said he had been a customer at the store for seven years and he was not aware of any other reason why he was being banned.

He added: 'The day before I bought the oil I went to customer services because the store had overcharged me for a pack of PG Tips. I got a refund but that was all sorted out and I can’t believe Tesco are being so petty.'

Mr Waites, who lives with wife Miriam, 27, said his 2.5-litre Ford Transit van had been adapted to run on vegetable oil. He added: 'I have been running the van this way for about six years and it’s perfectly legal. The Government actually gives you a tax-free allowance every year if you use vegetable oil. We cover about 50 miles a day travelling around South Oxfordshire and use about 2,300 litres a year.

'A litre of diesel now costs over £1.40 at the pumps whereas a litre of vegetable oil costs about 90p.'

In recent years companies have provided drivers with a source of greener, cheaper motoring by turning oil used for frying chips into biodiesel. After collecting drums of used oil from cafes and takeaways, firms refine the liquid into a fuel suitable for most diesel engines.

But specially adapted engines, like the one in Mr Waites’s van, can run on unrefined vegetable oil.

Biodiesel emits much less unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and other harmful substances, and does not produce the noxious black smoke associated with mineral diesel. However, biodiesel is not a lover of cold mornings and may cause start-up problems at very low temperatures.

Tesco spokesman David Nieberg said: 'Our stores are there to serve customers, not prevent them from shopping. 'We’d like to stress we do not ban customers for simply buying vegetable oil – even if it is to put in a vehicle. We are speaking to Mr Waites to resolve the issue.'


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