Trucker Chronicles
The credit card smorgasbord
There ain't no flies on Harold

OOIDA member Harold Melton was on his usual run when he pulled into the truckstop known as Whiskey Pete's in Primm, NV, last March. He noted nothing unusual about the stop.

"The young men at the counter were courteous and helpful," he recalled. Harold used his Discover card to purchase five California trailer permits for a total of $40, then went on his way. He never dreamed that one of the staff at the counter was helping himself to Harold's line of credit.

The last week in March he was on his way to Salt Lake City from Los Angeles, just coming in to Baker, CA, when his wife called on the cell phone, telling him she had just received the Discover bill.

"Our bill showed 12 phone calls made from Jean, NV, and Sandy Valley, NV," Harold told Land Line in late March. "I'm an ex-cop, felt some bad vibes kick in and decided to look into the matter since I was already in the area."

Harold asked some questions at the station, but the members of the staff kept mum.

"Apparently," he said, "no one knew anything about the phone charges on my Discover card."

He contacted the manager at Whiskey Pete's, Allan Williams, about the matter. Williams said he'd look into it. But justice wasn't moving fast enough for Harold Melton. Two months passed and he told Land Line he was going to get to the bottom of the inaccurate charges even if he had to go over the manager's head.

"Since I had the phone numbers on my bill," he detailed, "I used the reverse directory to obtain the home address of the number that had been called the most. The number belonged to the maintenance guy's girlfriend. It seems the maintenance man had a personal problem with another employee. The other number on my statement was that employee's home phone number. The maintenance guy wanted to set him up as the guilty party, so he used my card number, and gave the operator the guy's home number."

Harold again contacted Williams and the security chief at Whiskey Pete's to alert them to the problem. He suggested they fire the employee. He also asked that he be reimbursed pronto. According to Harold, the two seemed to be helpful and again they said they'd take care of the problem.

But the weeks rolled on and no check arrived. Harold called the Las Vegas fraud squad to report the theft, but they didn't seem to think the matter was important enough to investigate.

Repeated calls to the fuelstop netted Harold the pat answer, "It's in the mail." In May, Harold called again and was told by the security chief that the person who handles the mail had stolen the check and the problem was more widespread than he realized. Finally on May 23, Harold received his $42 check and a letter of apology from Allan Williams.

"It may be my old cop instincts kicking in," Harold said to Land Line, "but truckers need to pay special attention to their credit card bills."

by Donna Carlson