Pilot rolls out new rewards card to protect transaction history

| Friday, January 28, 2011

A spokesman for Pilot Corp. says the company?s rewards card program now requires user names and passwords for the information to be accessed. While this would have been helpful in a recent well-publicized case involving a Pilot card being used to verify a truck driver?s log, every little bit helps.

Pilot spokesman Jay Stinnett, a regional sales manager in the Southeast, told Land Line that Pilot has done away with its old system as of Jan. 1. That system allowed anyone who possessed the card or the card number to enter it on Pilot?s website and view the transaction history. The history included a time stamp, which Stinnett says is no longer the case.

?We upgraded our loyalty program at the first of the year,? Stinnett said. ?To view any history now, you need to have a user name and password.? The new system is called Frequent Fueler Advantage.

Stinnett says the changeover was underway before an incident involving company driver Jody Scott, which drew numerous calls to OOIDA and the call-in radio show circuit. Stinnett said Pilot received a number of calls as well.

Scott, a company driver for Bill Farrell LLC out of Arlee, MT, underwent an inspection Nov. 30, 2010, on Interstate 29 near Onawa, IA.

The driver had recently mailed a packet of receipts to his boss, OOIDA Life Member Bill Farrell, and as a result did not have much left in the way of documentation. Because supporting documentation is the responsibility of the carrier, a driver is not in violation if he has no supporting docs on him. But the Iowa DOT inspector spotted a Pilot rewards card on Scott?s dash and decided to run a transaction history as a supporting document.

After entering the card numbers on Pilot?s website on his laptop, the officer made notes on the inspection report about the transaction history, including a time the card was used to redeem points for a shower.

Aside from a one-hour discrepancy on his log, Scott?s inspection was clean and he was not put out of service. But the issue of driver privacy came under the microscope after the original story ran on Land Line Now.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz says two important factors come into play in Scott?s case.

?The first part of this is about supporting documents,? Rajkovacz said.

?Drivers do have an obligation when asked for supporting documents that if they have them on them, they should present them to law enforcement because they are an agent of the motor carrier. But if a driver does not have them, it?s not a violation because the obligation is specific to a motor carrier and not a driver. The reason is, a driver?s got to turn in paperwork to get paid.?

The second part, he said, is about driver privacy and the techniques used by law enforcement to obtain information.

?What is permissible?? Rajkovacz asks. ?Roadside enforcement certainly has the right under the guise of safety to get in and check for certain items; exhaust leaks is one of them. That does not permit them to go on a wild goose chase and tear apart the interior of a truck unless a driver gives them permission.?

Rajkovacz said he considers the case involving Scott to be a wild goose chase.

?I believe drivers get taken advantage of in these instances,? he said. OOIDA takes frequent calls from members asking if an officer has a right to search or obtain information without a warrant. Sometimes, these are not easy questions to answer, but Rajkovacz says a driver certainly has rights under the Constitution.

A spokeswoman for Iowa Department of Public Safety previously told Land Line that law enforcement acts within the parameters of cases that went to the Iowa Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court regarding searches.

The spokeswoman said, based on that, the officer in Scott?s case was within his charge to obtain and search the Pilot card.

Rajkovacz, a former trucker as well as a former law enforcement officer in Wisconsin, says federal rules and Supreme Court cases do not prohibit the use of the rewards cards but they don?t specifically mention them, either.

?I certainly would have never contemplated that a Frequent Fueler card was any kind of supporting document,? Rajkovacz said.

?If I charged a meal to my credit card, I certainly wouldn?t have handed that over to an inspector. I think that it gets so intrusive, that?s violating the spirit if not the letter of the law. Drivers do have constitutional rights.?