Trucker fights ‘prohibited’ credit card surcharge

| Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is it worth it?

That’s the question many truck drivers ask themselves after they’ve discovered an accounting error on a repair or parts bill, but are sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles down the road.

Depending on the amount, many drivers choose to “eat” the cost because it’s not worth the time and effort to try to recoup their losses.

The owner of a small trucking company in Texas is urging all drivers to review their purchases to make sure they get what they paid for – and no surcharges are added to their bills.

When Gregory L. Buhrow’s driver used his MasterCard debit card to buy parts for the truck from Empire Truck Sales LLC in Jackson, MS, they charged him a $6.56 credit card “usage” fee. Then he was charged sales tax on that usage fee, which amounted to 7 percent.

While some might have overlooked the added fees, Buhrow did not. Besides his small trucking company, he also is a certified public accountant and owns his own firm.

After his driver turned in the invoice, Buhrow reviewed it and saw the credit card surcharge. He then sent Empire a letter asking for a refund of the charge and sales tax assessed because the MasterCard agreement “prohibits” surcharge fees.

“My concern is that other drivers are paying this and unaware that this is a prohibited transaction,” Buhrow told Land Line recently.

According to the MasterCard Small Business website, it states that “one of these rules specifically prohibits the practice of surcharging, that is, charging a customer a fee for using a MasterCard over and above the sale amount.”

As of press time, Land Line’s calls and emails to Empire’s parent company, Stribling Equipment, had not been returned.

As for Buhrow, he has also notified MasterCard of Empire’s surcharge as well. He said he has yet to hear from either Stribling or MasterCard.

“Truckers need all the help they can get,” Buhrow said.

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