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Fuel Cat and Techstore.co.uk - Scam Warning
Techstore.co.uk are a supplier of PC components,
systems, peripherals etc. Many such suppliers exist, some good, some bad.
A Google search
for "techstore.co.uk" problem reveals several people who have had bad
experiences with this outfit.
Techstore.co.uk themselves send out information which indicates that they are likely to be a bunch of skanky bastards and should not be trusted. However, unless you are assiduous in poking through their website, you are unlikely to become aware of this information until you place an order and receive the email confirming your order - and indeed, unless you are also somewhat knowledgeable about certain motor trade scams, you may not realise even then. Said confirmation email, and their website, contain the following sentence:
Your credit/debit card statement will show Techstore transactions as "Fuel Cat Ltd"
Why does this ring alarm bells? Well, the whole Fuel Cat business is a scam. The proof of this is that for over twenty years it has been selling a product - the Fuel Cat - which they know full well does not work. None of the claims made for it have been substantiated, established scientific theory dictates that there is no reason to expect the principle to work, experimental results (eg. tests by Practical Classics magazine) are in accordance with theory, and the OFT and ASA have banned advertisers from claiming that it does work - and there is evidence (see later) implying that there is a long history of them being made to remove untrue statements about it from their website. So they are perfectly well aware that it is useless. Despite this, instead of doing the honourable thing and taking it off the market and refunding everyone who has bought one, they continue to punt this useless piece of shit using a weaselly-worded website designed to evade the ASA ruling and similar instructions but nevertheless deceive people into believing that the useless device works. Since this main business is thus based on dishonesty and deception it is only common sense not to trust any other business with which these con artists - for that is what someone running a business based on deceiving people is - are associated.
Not heard of a Fuel Cat? I'll tell you what it is. It's a bag of magic pellets which you put in the fuel tank of a vehicle where it supposedly does all kinds of marvellous and impossible things. More briefly, it's a scam. It's a device which is designed to take advantage of the limited level of scientific knowledge among the general public, and con the owners of classic cars into wasting money on a totally useless device the use of which is likely to result in expensive damage to the engine by misleading people into believing that they are protected against damage when this is not in fact the case.
Fuel Cat have an FAQ page about their skanky product which is a masterpiece of deceit. It begins "Our customers' testimonials explain the benefits they have experienced using Fuelcat. We do not need to make any claims, but we answer some questions below." Customers' testimonials are no substitute for a proper scientific evaluation, and naturally they don't publish the "testimonials" which say things like "My cylinder head is now ruined because your piece of shit product doesn't do what it says it does". And that "we do not need to make any claims" - oh very sneaky, that means they can't be sued for making bullshit claims. Well, suable or not, it's still a load of fucking bollocks.
They seem now to have altered that page. The content has disappeared and has been replaced with a free phone number to call with questions. It occurs to me that the OFT/ASA are much less likely to hear about untrue and misleading information being disseminated over the phone than by means of open advertisement. However, there is a copy of the original page on archive.org and here is a local copy (minus (purely decorative) images). It is instructive to read the source code of that page and observe the various bits of content that have been commented out; they consist of claims even more ridiculous than the ones that are still displayed, and it gives a distinct impression that there is a long history of them being made to remove untrue statements from their website.
Here is the rest of that FAQ page as it existed on 15 June 2006, complete with comments and corrections (in bold) by myself:
What is a Catalyst?
A catalyst is something that produces a change without itself being consumed.
Well, that at least is correct, if not exactly rigorous.
What is a Fuel Cat?
Fuel Cat is a heterogeneous or contact catylyst (sic) formed by mixing a number of metals. When petrol, diesel, oil and kerosene come into contact with the surface, it greatly improves combustion efficiency.
Well, I could bang on for a long time about the chemistry of fuel and how there are no reactions available to common hydrocarbon fuel in a tank or fuel line that would improve its combustibility without also lowering its energy content and causing a significant fuel economy penalty, but I can't be arsed, so I'll present a simpler argument. For the commonly used automotive fuels, the characteristics of the fuel have surprisingly little effect on combustion efficiency. More important are factors like accuracy of fuel metering, turbulence in the intake tract and cylinder, combustion chamber shape, ignition timing, and a bunch of other engine parameters. Car manufacturers the world over have spent a staggering amount of money on optimising the design of engines and engine management systems to the point where combustion efficiency is jolly close to 100% - as demonstrated by the ability of many modern cars to combust so cleanly that they can meet emissions standards for the MoT test even with the exhaust catalytic converter (ECC) removed. Had it been possible to sidestep any part of this development process by dropping a magic catalyst in the tank, then you can rest assured that the car makers would have done so and saved themselves a huge amount of dosh. Why have they not done so? Because it doesn't bloody well work, that's why not. (And the reason they haven't saved more money by taking the ECCs out of the exhausts of these wonderfully clean cars is because of stupid legislation that says they have to fit the ECC even if it's clean enough without one.)
Can it enable engines designed for leaded petrol to run on unleaded petrol?
We have received many testimonials from Classic Car owners and clubs.
Which means bugger all. Testimonials from people who - because they are people - are keen to convince themselves that they haven't wasted their money on the thing are no substitute for proper double-blind trials.
You will note also that the answer given is a weasel answer, a politician's answer, an answer which is designed to evade possible lawsuits. They can't give a straight "Yes" because they know bloody well that the true answer is "No" and that a properly-conducted test would prove it was "No", so they say something that implies "Yes" while still leaving the door open for them to say "we didn't actually say it was 'yes'". Sneaky sods.
Will Fuel Cat alone prevent valve seat recession?
Since 1991, thousands of satisfied customers have converted their car or bike to run on unleaded petrol with no detrimental effect.
Another weasel answer. Again, the true answer is "No". To prevent valve seat recession requires either the fitting of suitably hardened valve seats or the presence of substances in the fuel which deposit a lubricating coating on the valve seats (which is how TEL works). There are no short-cuts or ways to wriggle around these requirements; there is no way in which fuel can be reformulated to give it valve-seat-lubricating properties other than by the addition of TEL or one of the other metallic compounds which have similar effects. The metals contained in the Fuel Cat could form the basis of valve-seat-lubricating compounds, but since the Fuel Cat, by their own admission, does not dissolve in the fuel, it cannot supply valve-seat lubrication. Even if it did dissolve in the fuel, the rate of dissolution implied by the claimed lifetime is far short of what would be required to provide adequate valve seat lubrication.
If the "satisfied customers" have not experienced valve seat recession, then either they have not yet driven their engines far or hard enough for it to become apparent - residual TEL may provide protection for several thousand miles after switching from leaded to unleaded, especially if it's a classic car being "driven like Miss Daisy" - or their engine already has suitably hardened valve seats to cope with unleaded; nearly all aluminium-head engines, and one or two with iron heads, fall into this category.
It's also worth noting that aluminium heads with hardened valve seats have been standard practice on motorbikes for a lot longer than they have on cars; and many motorbikes are two-strokes, and don't have valves.
Can Fuel Cat damage your engine?
No, as the catalyst does not put anything into the fuel, but alters the structure.
It is precisely because it doesn't put anything into the fuel that its use can lead to engine damage. If you do not have hardened valve seats but nevertheless use unleaded petrol, sooner or later you will suffer from valve seat recession. If you don't want this to happen you must - no exceptions - add a valve seat lubricant to the fuel. It is chemically impossible to "alter the structure" of fuels without lubricants in such a way as to give them valve-seat-lubricating properties. So this answer is a lie. The true answer would be "Yes, Fuel Cat can damage your engine, by fooling you into thinking you don't need to take any other measures to prevent valve seat recession."
Will it help motorbikes?
We have many written testimonials from motorbike owners who have been using Fuel Cat since 1991. The Royal Signals White Helmets display team use a Fuel Cat on all their specially built motorbikes.
Another weasel answer. They can't say "Yes" because it is provably untrue and they can't say "No" so they fudge it. I'd like to see Jeremy Paxman get this lot on his show. Testimonials are no substitute for double-blind trials, whether they come from the Royal Signals or from Joe Bloggs - and indeed there is precedent for the British military being ripped off with a similar scam, in the middle of fucking WW2 of all times, in the shape of the Broquet fuel catalyst (essentially the same thing by a different name, tested by Practical Classics in their January 1990 issue (IIRC) and found to be a load of shite; unfortunately the article seems to be too old to appear on their website). It's also worth noting that aluminium heads with hardened valve seats have been standard practice on motorbikes for a lot longer than they have on cars; and many motorbikes are two-strokes, and don't have valves.
Can it be used on anything else?
Fuelcat can be installed on any vehicle powered by a conventional internal combustion engine.
True. It just won't do anything.
How long will it last?
Fuelcat will last 250,000 miles (400,000 kms) or 10 years with no maintenance needed.
It lasts effectively forever - it won't stop working, because it never worked in the first place.
Tank or In-line unit?
Tank units are used mainly for smaller engines and also where fuel is not used regularly, as the unit stops fuel degradation and also inhibits bacterial growth. In-line units are normally used for larger engines although either is suitable.
Fuel degradation is caused by the loss through evaporation of the more volatile components of the fuel, and to a lesser extent by the breakdown of the less stable components. If this thing was really capable of hindering evaporation and breakdown processes it would fuck up the combustion something chronic, since both processes are highly important in achieving good combustion. Yet they make out that it's supposed to improve combustion. You can't have it both ways...
Does Fuel Cat come with any guarantee?
If within 5,000 miles from date of warranty commencing you are not satisfied with this product your money will be refunded.
Five thousand miles isn't much. It's entirely possible that an engine that has previously been run on leaded petrol will have sufficient residual lead to protect the valve seats for 5000 miles of running on unleaded, especially if it's driven gently, as many classic cars are. And even if it doesn't last the distance, they're only offering your money back on their piece of shit product, there's no mention of paying for the repairs to your engine. It is worth noting that Practical Classics had to abort their test well before 5000 miles was up because the valve seats were so badly damaged that the head was effectively scrap.
Office of Fair Trading judgement condemning the Fuel Cat
Original link broken. See OFT Press Release 2000 PN+42-00 "Misleading fuel claims stopped" on archive.org or local copy.
Advertising Standards Authority news release about the judgement
ASA annual report for 2000 - see page 14 of the .pdf file, third column
Original link broken. See ASA Annual Report 2000 on archive.org or local copy.
From the RAC report for the ASA (from above link):
"None of the claims made ... in respect of Fuel Cat have been substantiated. Furthermore, there are good theoretical considerations and existing knowledge which lead to the conclusion that tin alloy pellets in the fuel tank of a vehicle or fitted in the fuel line, with or without a magnet, will not have any effect on combustion and therefore cannot affect fuel consumption, exhaust emissions, gasoline octane number, exhaust valve seat recession or exhaust catalyst life."
So. The Fuel Cat is a load of bollocks, they know it's bollocks, they've been
officially ordered to stop spouting bollocks, and yet they're still selling
the fucking thing and washing their hands of the expensive damage to people's
engines that can result from falling for their deception. And techstore.co.uk
are some kind of subsidiary of this organisation. Would you trust any
business whose primary product is not only a fraud and a deception but also
liable to land the poor punter with a hefty bill for engine repairs which
said business will not admit liability for? No, didn't think you would.
Please note that I have no commercial interest in writing this page - as it happens I don't even have a job, let alone any business interests. Its purpose is simply to provide information by which the public may be protected against being ripped off and caused to suffer unnecessary and pointless expense. I was inspired to write it by the shock of discovering the Fuel Cat reference on the techstore.co.uk website - I had been about to buy something off them until I spotted that.
Back to Crap Stuff
Back to Pigeon's Nest
Be kind to pigeons
ASA General News Release
General: ASA Welcomes Office of Fair Trading action against advertiser - 24/10/2000
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today welcomed the action taken by the Office of Fair Trading against Clockwork Orange Limited.
The OFT has obtained written assurances from the company that it will stop producing misleading advertisements for a product called Fuel Cat. It was referred to the OFT by the ASA in July for persistently flouting the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion by making unsubstantiated claims for the product.
Clockwork Orange Ltd continued to claim that Fuel Cat enabled leaded petrol engines to run on unleaded petrol, despite warnings that their test evidence was flawed.
The ASA had upheld complaints against the company for claims made in advertisements placed in specialist car magazines, marketing literature at car exhibitions and on its web site.
ASA Director General, Christopher Graham, said: "Today's action by the Director General of Fair Trading shows that advertising self regulation is supported by an effective legal framework.
"Advertisers should note that the ASA and the system of non-broadcast advertising self regulation can bite as well as bark."
For further information contact Gary Ward on 020 7291 3065
1. The Advertising Standards Authority promotes the highest standards in all non-broadcast advertisements in the UK. It does so in the public interest and in co-operation with industry by ensuring that those who commission, prepare, place and publish advertisements observe the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion. The Codes provide that all advertisements and promotions should be legal, decent, honest and truthful and should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society. The ASA acts independently both of the Government and the advertising industry.
2. The ASA has a range of sanctions against advertisers that do not comply with the Codes. These include adverse publicity; asking trade bodies, through the Committee of Adveretising Practice, to refuse further advertising space and/or removal of trade incentives. In the rare case of a persistent or deliberately misleading adertisement under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 (Amended 2000).
This was originally taken from the ASA website, but that link now 404s; I found it on this Saabscene post. Also on archive.org or local copy.