The Official Publication
of the Owner-Operator
Independent Drivers

Letters To The Editor

Fuel shock
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists committed an act of war upon U.S. soil. I, as well as thousands of company truckdrivers and owner-operators, listened with shock and horror to the news reports and regular updates from our companies.
Upon pulling into the Pilot Travel Center, Fernley, NV, at 7:30 p.m. for diesel fuel, I found another shock. The price of diesel fuel was $1.73 per gallon. I was concerned after hearing radio reports of widespread price gouging. My wife, Renee, spoke with the fuel desk cashier. She found that the price per gallon was $1.63 just hours before the crisis in the Northeast. I asked the clerk who was responsible for the sudden increase in fuel. She gave me the name of the store manager, Bryan Welsh. It was apparent that Pilot Corp. saw an obvious, sick excuse for spiking fuel prices. In addition to the sudden price increase, I was advised that they would charge me an additional 6 cents per gallon because I chose to pay with my company fuel card, which is a MasterCard debit card.
Renee immediately phoned the Fernley, NV, sheriff’s department to find out what we could do. The dispatcher advised Renee that, while it was wrong, there was nothing the sheriff’s department could do about the situation.
Yes, our shores have been attacked. Our sense of security shattered. We must band together to insure this does not ever happen again. Price spiking is illegal. Price spiking based on such a horror is immoral.
Mark & Renee Taylor
Warren, AR

Fuel shock II
This is a follow-up letter and the response I received from the Pilot Corp. At 3:48 p.m., Sept. 12, I received a call from a Pilot rep who told me that he was responding to an e-mail from me only moments earlier. He called me almost as fast as Pilot raised fuel prices after the raid on New York City. I was glad to hear from him.
He began by stating that the store managers have no control over the fuel prices at their stores. He further stated that “Pilot had to raise the price of their fuel because their costs had increased.” I questioned him as to why their cost had gone up only hours after the attack. The Pilot rep informed me it was because all refineries had shut down production of fuel at the moment of attack and were put back in operation today. I found this difficult to believe — that all refineries could shut down in a matter of hours and come back in operation as quickly, causing a price gouge such as this. At this time, he informed me that a 10-cent increase in fuel was not a price gouge, that a price gouge was a three or four dollar price movement. This was only a price spike. I told him that a sudden price spike of 10 cents was a price spike unbearable to small trucking companies such as mine. I could not pass this unexpected cost on to my customers
He defended the position that they had the right to pass their cost on to their customers. In my opinion, the 10-cent movement Pilot charged only hours after the attack on New York City was only a way to take advantage of a terrible situation to make a profit. I stated I could not understand how the price of the fuel in the ground could rise so rapidly. When I fuel my truck, the cost of that fuel in my tanks stays the same. In my mind, the price of fuel could only go up when he had to replenish his fuel supply at a higher rate, not before. He informed me he had a degree in economics, although I do not know what that had to do with this?
I did thank the Pilot rep for taking the time to call me on the cell phone in my truck so soon after receiving my e-mail to explain the price spike and I would make the correction to the letter I sent. I told him I would like to know who I was talking to when I made my correction to the letter, and he asked to be named as “a Pilot Corporation representative.”
At 4:03 p.m., the following e-mail was received from Jon Adam: Mr. Taylor: We changed our prices based on the costs we incurred, Pilot Corporation
It is still my belief that Pilot Corp. and its store in Fernley, NV, took advantage of a tragic situation to make a profit at my family’s expense by raising the price of fuel by 10 cents upon the news of this event. I purchased 209.952 gallons of fuel at $1.799 per gallon, for a total bill of $366.91; invoice number 302724. I firmly believe I was overcharged 10 cents per gallon and the Pilot Corp. owes me a refund of $20.99. In addition, I was charged an additional 6 cents per gallon for using a Transportation Alliance Bank debit card, which amounts to $12.60. I would like this refunded to me also, for a total of $33.59.
Mark R. Taylor

Fuel gouging
The Flying J in Sullivan, MO, raised their diesel fuel price from $1.439 a gallon when one of our trucks fueled on Monday, Sept. 10 to $1.829 a gallon when another one of our trucks fueled at 3:48 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and $1.699 a gallon when we fueled at 8:24 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
I have asked them to refund to us the difference between the price we paid and the price we should have paid. I imagine if you would investigate, you would find that the amount of profit for the 2-3 days of high prices would be a significant amount of money when trucks take on as much fuel at one time as they do. I have figured the difference that I expect to be refunded and it is as follows:

Sept. 11
We paid:
$1.829/gallon x 140.91 gallons =$257.73
We should have paid:
$1.439/gallon x 140.91 gallon = $202.77
Expected refund: $54.96
Sept. 12
We paid:
$1.699/gallon x 163.09 gallons =$277.11
We should have paid:
$1.439/gallon x 163.09 gallons = $234.69
Expected refund: $42.42

Multiply the difference by the hundreds of trucks that fueled during those two days and Flying J will owe huge sums of money to a lot of people who will not have or take the time to ask for a refund or report the unfair pricing. Each truckstop and trucking company have records of each fuel purchase made for the purposes of fuel tax reporting.
Loren Hunt
Battlefield, MO

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