Flying J says Visa chose its way out of truck diesel purchases

| 5/23/2007

Lisa Dyer and husband Toby Dyer spend about $50,000 every year on diesel for their company, T&L Transport.

The Dyers, who are OOIDA members from Caldwell, ID, say they regularly fill up their lumber-hauling flatbed at Flying J fuel stops because of the chain’s dominance in California and on the West Coast.

The recent decision by Flying J officials to stop accepting Visa credit and debit cards for diesel purchases for semis will force T&L Transport to either limit purchases at the Flying J or carry large amounts of cash on each trip. Or, as many drivers are realizing, they could turn to one of several fuel payment cards offered by the Flying J.

“I think they need to give a little more thought as to who that’s going to affect,” Lisa Dyer told Land Line on Wednesday, May 23. “Visa is big.”

Daniel Cordner, a sales representative who oversees operations in Missouri and Illinois for THC fleetcard services – a sales transaction subsidiary of the Flying J – said all Flying J locations in the United States will stop accepting Visa debit and credit cards at truck pumps beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 25.

Unleaded fuel and other convenience store purchases may still be made with Visa cards, Cordner said.

The decision was made due to Visa charging 5 cents per gallon for processing fees per transaction, Cordner said.

“Our company is a little bit more forward – we’re trying to save our customers more,” Cordner said. “Visa didn’t like that. They threatened to raise the price throughout the country.”

Visa spokeswoman Randa Ghnaim didn’t immediately return a voicemail message left Wednesday, but she told Land Line last week that Visa wasn’t aware of any rejection by the Flying J.

Cordner confirmed that the Flying J has multiple fuel purchase cards, including credit cards backed by Visa’s longtime competitor Mastercard.

“We have a fuel card that is kind of like a bank card – we don’t charge interest,” Cordner said. “You could say we do compete with Visa.”

Dyer said Flying J employees have told her several reasons why the company made the decision about Visa. One fuel desk employee told her Visa wasn’t paying card charges fast enough.

“If it’s just that they want people to go to (the Flying J) card, that makes more sense to me,” she said.

Cordner referred additional questions about the Visa matter to Carl Kelley, vice president of marketing for THC.

Kelley didn’t immediately respond to two voicemail messages left by Land Line on Wednesday.

OOIDA Member Mike Farris spends about $80,000 a year on diesel to fill his fleet-owned tractor.

He’ll stop in at a Flying J to buy food or sit down at a Country Market restaurant, but Farris says cashiers seem surprised when he tells them he doesn’t have a Flying J credit card.

“You don’t take Comdata and you lost $80,000 worth of business from me last year alone,” he said he tells them.

“It is a shame how a business is blocking a majority of the trucks,” Farris told Land Line.

Virginia Parker, a Flying J spokeswoman, told Land Line Magazine last week that the Visa card issue was “complicated,” and said the company was in the process of responding to questions posed by Land Line.

Parker hasn’t returned five phone and e-mail messages left by Land Line.

Trip Smith, an OOIDA member from Collinsville, VA, left a message with XM Satellite Radio Open Road Channel 171’s “Land Line Now” comment line after Land Line’s Web site first reported on the Flying J story.

Smith said he’s fed up with changes made by the Flying J.

“First they don’t accept Comdata, now they don’t accept Visa?” Smith said. “I figure one day all they’re going to accept is cash,” he said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer