SPECIAL REPORT: TAB banking nightmare cripples small-business truckers

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 3/1/2012

UPDATE: 3:00 p.m., Thursday, March 1, 2012 – Late Thursday, OOIDA Life Member Bill Goodwin of Murrieta, CA, reported that one of his drivers was able to buy fuel using his TAB card. Goodwin said he was also able to use his TAB card for an online transaction and could move his money from one account to another account, but still was unable to make withdrawals.

Editor’s note: This story is continuing to develop. Check back for further updates. Original article appears below.

Thursday, March 1, 2012 – For more than five days now, countless small-business truckers have watched their profits dwindle because a banking system computer upgrade has left them unable to access their accounts or fuel cards through the Transportation Alliance Bank of Ogden, UT.

Over the weekend, the TAB upgraded its online computer banking system, which was supposed to better serve its customers.

Instead, it has turned into a banking nightmare for many truckers who use TAB. They have been locked out of their bank accounts or haven’t been able to use their fuel cards since Sunday, Feb. 26.

Since Sunday, OOIDA member James Dean of Anamosa, IA, has two drivers stranded out on the road who haven’t been able to use their fuel cards. He told Land Line on Wednesday that he has one truck stranded in Kentucky and one in Indiana. He said a third truck was scheduled to go out this week, but he kept it home because of the fuel problem.

“I have been with TAB for a long time because they have no transaction fees, and some of the other ones have a $3 or $4 fee per time,” he said. “I put all of my eggs in one basket, did all of my business banking with them, and now I can’t access anything.”

Eric Myers, director of marketing for TAB, admitted that their customers have been having problems since the conversion. He does not have a date on when customers might be able to access their accounts or use their fuel cards.

“I do not want to speculate on when that problem will be fixed other than to say every possible person that can fix the issue is working on it,” Myers told Land Line on Thursday.

“Like many complex undertakings, there were issues that arose during the final conversion that did not occur during the tests,” Myers said. “Some of these issues included accounts not linking between the core and online systems and card authorization issues.”

Dean said he has spent hours on the phone since Sunday to try and remedy the problem to no avail. For five days, Dean said he has waited on hold for hours each day only to have the calls dropped or the remedies proposed by customer representatives at TAB fail to work.

He said he was told by one customer representative on Monday that he could get his trucks fueled by having the fuel desks run his card through as a MasterCard transaction through Transportation Clearing House, which has merged with EFS Transportation Services, but that system crashed as well.

On Tuesday, he was told to have his drivers get some TCH checks, and he could get some express codes to purchase fuel that way. He said that system failed, too.

“So I had my drivers, low on fuel already, driving around the countryside to find some TCH checks so I could get them pre-approved and get the express codes,” Dean said. “Then I was told that wasn’t going to work either.”

Myers said that while TCH, now EFS, is a separate company from TAB, the bank does “use their network for our cards in many truck stop issues.”

A TCH employee confirmed for Land Line that their system was being upgraded as well over the weekend and had some problems.

“I do know that TCH, now EFS, had some problems yesterday that affected our customers,” Myers said.

OOIDA member Dave Groves of Fishers, IN, hasn’t been able to access his account since the conversion. He uses EFS Transportation Services for his fuel card, so he has been able to fuel, but that he relies on TAB for all of his other banking needs. 

“I have been calling and calling and no one has taken the time to call me back,” Groves said. “This isn’t the way to run a business. I pay all of my bills, my PrePass, everything, is paid out of my account. I just want to know that my bills are being paid.”

On Thursday, OOIDA member Jonathan Taylor was stranded on the Ohio Turnpike with no fuel after the fuel desk ran his TAB card and told him that he needed “voice authorization.”

“I then ran to the ATM to get the money out of the machine. It spit out a ticket that said zero dollars, even though I checked the balance over the phone and it said the money was there,” Taylor said. “I don’t know what to do. I got an advance on the load, a T-Chek which I deposited, but I haven’t been able to get the money to get fuel.”

Taylor said he has had to turn off the truck and wait for answers. Calls and emails to TAB have gone unanswered and his load is scheduled to be in Michigan tomorrow.

“I am scheduled to have my truck insurance taken out of my account … and I have bills I need to pay, but I can’t get a straight answer about how much money I have in my account.”

OOIDA Life Member Bill Goodwin of Murrieta, CA, owns a small trucking company. He said if he doesn’t get answers soon, his business will come to a standstill.

“I have three trucks, plus myself, and if I am not able to access my account soon, my business is going to be crippled,” Goodwin told Land Line.

“I have three trucks that I have been feeding with my personal credit card, but I don’t have a high limit on my personal credit card, and I am going to have all three trucks down here shortly,” he said. “It’s frustrating that I can see my money and I can move money from one account to another, but I can’t do anything with it.”

Myers said that TAB and their software providers have had teams “working around the clock” to identify and resolve issues. He said the bank has increased staff to “meet customer demands,” but that “the complexity of the conversion and the limitations of the phone network have slowed our desired progress.”

TAB customers have been directed to email tab.info@tabbank.com with any problems because their phone network provider isn’t able to handle the volume of calls they have received since the conversion.

TAB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of FJ Management, Inc., which provides financial services to the transportation industry. TAB provides banking services to approximately 550 Pilot Flying J Travel Centers nationwide.

As for Dean and other small-business truckers, they have been unable to book new loads because they aren’t sure they will be able to fuel their trucks.

“It’s frustrating. I maintain my equipment, my drivers get the job done, and my customers know I don’t take loads unless I know I can do the job,” Dean said. “Right now, I can’t get fuel, so I can’t take the loads.”

Goodwin said if he doesn’t find a resolution soon, his business will be forced to shut down – with three drivers out on the road with no fuel – until the bank fixes the glitches in the new computer system.

“Unfortunately, I am not in Ogden, Utah, where I could just walk into the bank and demand answers,” he said. “I was able to speak to a customer service agent on Sunday for about a half hour, but since that time, I have had no contact with the bank. I have left voicemails, I have left emails, I have done everything they have asked for, but still have no answers.”

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