J trucker surcharge continues to irk
owner-operators who use Visa or MasterCard.
Recently, OOIDA members raised more vexing
questions regarding their fuel purchases at
Why do the
same cards surcharged at Flying J's truck islands
get cash price at the RV diesel pump? Not only
that, but why does Flying J offer RVs diesel
discounts to boot?
that discrimination?" asks Pennsylvania
owner-operator Gary Boyer. "That can be up
to four cents cheaper!"
Moseley reports that he heard an RV owner at
Flying J buy diesel at cash price with a credit
card. He couldn't help trying it too. "I
went back the next day and ... bobtailed to the
RV island." He filled his truck at the
advertised price using a Discover card and
avoided the surcharge. Another trucker reported
calling in to the cashier, claiming he intended
to fill his RV on the truck island with a credit
card. He put 150 gallons in his Freightliner
"RV," avoiding the $4.50 surcharge.
member from Sunrise, FL, contacted Land Line with
a complaint too. In August, Tappan pulled up at
the pump only to learn that Flying J no longer
accepts the Conoco card which he intended using.
The Conoco card is still good on the RV island.
He fueled at the truck island using his American
Express card. He was surprised to learn that
truck island use of Amex incurs a surcharge while
tourists using Amex at the RV pump get the
questioned the manager," says Tappan,
"I was told, 'that's the way it is.'"
Thinking that the manager just had an attitude,
Les called Richard Peterson at the Flying J home
office. He got the same answer. Les then wrote J.
Philip Adams, Flying J president and Adams
replied. In his letter Adams justified the
additional charge to truckers because of the card
fee and pointed out that, "tourists do not
receive a free drink and/or free shower or
Frequent Fueler benefits." He invited Les to
use a Flying J RV card at the RV pump to get the
advertised price without trucker
justification does not ring true to either Chris
West, manager of OOIDA special programs, or Amy
Washburn, an attorney with The Cullen Law Firm,
PLLC, who represents OOIDA and the other
plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Flying J and
Pilot (and EFS Bank and its parent company).
that "where the customer, RV or truck,
claims all incentives offered by Flying J, the
trucker is by far the most profitable to Flying J
without the surcharge penalty." West isn't
just shooting from the hip; he has been in the
truck diesel business for more than 15 years.
During a nine-year stint as Diesel Marketing
Manager with one of the largest truckstop chains,
West analyzed all credit card costs, and studied
the cost of incentive programs offered by
truckstop rivals including Flying J. If the
detailed cost analysis used by West to arrive at
his conclusion is correct, Flying J's policy
seems to make little sense.
points out that while there is an economic reason
for imposing a surcharge on credit purchases, it
applies equally to both truckers and RV
customers: "Flying J is charged by its bank
for a customer's use of credit that's how the
bank makes a profit."
Adams seems to
suggest that truckers using Visa or MasterCard
could bobtail to the RV islands to get the
advertised price on diesel. If you do that, you
won't get trucker benefits but you can get a
(limited) one-cent per gallon discount with an RV
card and discounts on food items. Adams would
probably prefer that truckers do not
inconvenience RV customers using that diesel
Richard Kershman has a different gripe. He used a
Flying J Transportation Alliance Bank (TAB) debit
card to buy diesel. On his first statement he
noticed a number of duplicate purchases, same
day, same amount. The Flying J card swipe on the
truck island had declined transactions several
times but charged his account each time the card
was swiped. "Because it didn't work, I
swiped it through again, and maybe a third time
before it took," says Kershman. "I had
no idea each time the computer was registering
the amount and I would be charged the amount
three times on my debit card."
truckers using TAB debit cards should scrutinize
statements carefully and if duplicate charges
appear call Flying J. "Most debit card
processors have computer routines to eliminate
duplicates. It looks like TAB, the Flying J bank,
does not use that feature." The TAB debit
card is the only debit card that gets cash price
at Flying J. West says it is a hastily designed
program meant to reinforce the cosmetic changes
recently made in rebuttal of OOIDA's credit card
surcharge action. Those changes suggest that
Flying J knows that its former "payment
adjustment" on credit card purchases for
truck diesel was wrongful, says West.
cards used on the truck island incur a higher
price than that advertised by Flying J, though
banks pay such charges within 24 hours. Debit
cards do not carry the fees that Adams cited in
his letter to Les Tappan. West says Adams'
justification becomes even harder to believe if
you consider that trucker debit cards are
surcharged for diesel at the truck islands,
though the bank fee is just a few cents.
Do RV owners
get preferred status? "Decide for
yourself," says West, "but you'd better
bobtail to the Flying J RV island if you want
price equality when using a Visa, MasterCard,
Discover or Amex to buy diesel."
-Sandi Soendker, managing editor