Flying J files lawsuit over fuel card

| Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Flying J is in a flying fit over its fuel cards.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, the company claims that its competitors – TravelCenters of America and Pilot Travel Centers – have actively boycotted Flying J fuel debit cards at their truck stops.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the lawsuit contends that the boycott was initiated under pressure from Comdata Corp., which controls 70 percent of the trucker fuel card market.

The dispute concerns Flying J’s TCH MasterCard fuel cards, which were launched in the 1990s as a direct competitor to Comdata. TCH means Transportation Clearing House.

The Tribune reported that the fight between Flying J and Comdata has been going on since 1996, when Flying J brought an antitrust suit against Comdata, claiming that the company had a monopoly on the fuel card market.

That suit was settled five years later without Comdata admitting to any wrongdoing.

As part of the settlement, Comdata agreed to grant Flying J two licenses that obligated Comdata to process the TCH cards. However, The Tribune reported that in 2002, Flying J accused Comdata of refusing to honor one of those licenses and filed a motion in U.S. District Court to enforce the settlement.

In an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Comdata successfully argued that it did not have to process the TCH MasterCards unless MasterCard verified that the truck stops had separate agreements with Flying J.

The Tribune reported that the current lawsuit – which Flying J said is not directly related to the previous appeal – alleges that TA and Pilot are not honoring the TCH cards because Comdata is pressuring them.

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