Tuesday, April 23, 2013

‘Low hanging fruit’

If you did not hear about the FBI raid on the Pilot Flying J corporate offices on April 15, and are not tuned in to all the ensuing events, you are trucking on another planet.

At first, the reason for the raid was pure speculation, but the guessing game didn’t last long.

When the long and detailed affidavit for search warrants was unsealed in federal court in Knoxville on April 18, the gasp could not have been louder. Maybe gasp isn’t the right word. It was kind of a choking sound, like when a superstar CEO of a mega-corporation has to face the industry and apologize all over the place for his company’s cheating many beloved customers.

Jimmy Haslam addresses the media. (Image via press
conference webcast at pilottravelcenters.com)
Yesterday I listened to Jimmy Haslam’s latest statement to the press regarding the FBI investigation. When he said he read the affidavit word for word Friday night – sat down and studied it like a “student” – I thought to myself, he was doing what all good reporters were doing, as well as many Internet-savvy trucking company customers.

He said he was embarrassed and he should have been. The affidavit was a shocker.

Recordings caught slick sales team personnel red-handed with explanations of how they cheated many trucking customers who had agreements to buy Pilot Flying J fuel and, in return, get a rebate. The rebates for many, however, have allegedly been manipulated.

According to the affidavit, the investigation alleges a rebate scheme designed for the dual purposes “of increasing the profitability of Pilot and increasing the diesel sales commissions of the Pilot employees participating in the fraud.”

It was submitted to the court by an FBI agent, whose reports detail the FBI investigation and recount information provided by informants, both named and confidential, and actual dialog recorded. It intended to show probable cause in order to get a search warrant.

But you won’t be reading verbatim details of recorded conversations of Pilot Flying J sales people in newspapers. The profanity often gets in the way of many true quotes.

It documents some high-level sales personnel at a meeting openly discussing the “screwing” or other terms used to describe the business practice of cheating companies who were “low hanging fruit” or not sharp enough to spot the fraud.

A school of thought with some of the fuel sales team seems to be that it’s OK to “monkey” or “jack” with the discounts promised the customer if they are too dumb to reconcile their records with Pilot Flying J’s records and prove it. If Pilot got busted by a smart trucking company who called them on the difference, sales people learned to call it a “computer glitch.”

Example of some of the recorded dialog:

“If the customers aren’t smart enough to know what they’re getting then they don’t deserve the rebate.”

“F--- them early and f--- them often.”

“I called Jimmy and told him I got busted at Western Express.”

“What did he say?”

“Oh, he knew it. … Absolutely. I mean he knew all along that I was cost-plussin’ this guy, he knew it all along. Loved it. We were makin’ $450,000 a month on him … why wouldn’t he love it?”

“Our advantage is their ignorance.”

“Yeah, aka we’re f---in’ them.” (Laughter)

28 comments:

  1. sooooo,,um,,why are their doors still open?

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    1. I was wondering that too...

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  2. I haven't been to a Flying J or Pilot since they took over Flying J and started dismantling great truck stops and turning them into "Get your fuel and go stops" The whole point of a truck stop is to get the driver out of his/her truck for awhile, perhaps get a good sit down meal and relax a bit before trudging on. They're credo seems to be to keep the driver moving so he/she can use all the hours they can in a day, Eating while driving can be a costly mistake. I wonder how the Anti-Trust laws will feel to the greedy. Too bad, So sad, Sucks to be them.

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  3. Fired so fired... I can only hope a purge is happening as we speak.

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  4. Disgusting and we wonder what's wrong with America
    With are own companies doing this that's why other countries do the same thing to us
    They should be shut down put out of business
    Just like the cheated their employee out of money and retirement and profit sharing when pilot and Flying J came together

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  5. Says he'll pay back the stolen funds.
    Why not pay whT you stole plus more,ya rotten crook.

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  6. The doors won't be open for long a letter going out to my drivers anyone fueling there will be fired. Everyone needs to boycott them

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  7. Let's see if the media covers this one.thanks OOIDA! Join as a member. Call 800-444-5791

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  8. Good news for TA, Petro, and Love's

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  9. They are no longer a fuel provider for an extremely large fleet.

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  10. who says they will stay open?

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  11. As a one truck operator I quit using flying j when the were taken over by pilot. I always thought pilot only cared for the big guys giving them big discounts because they purchased a lot of fuel. Now I see they will screw everybody til they get caught.
    I will stick with TA Petro and Loves or even Ambest before I use a pilot. Too bad for the nice honest people at the bottom who work at the pilot/flyin j.

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  12. i knew a long time ago that pilot were crooks and i didn,t buy fuel from them

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  13. I'm retired now but my experience was that Pilot was mostly concerned with providing parking at the fuel island. If you needed to sleep, no room to park. Even where there were nothing but corn fields next door, no room to park.

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  14. I wish we could shut them down but too many fleets will still stop there. Bring back the mom and pops - at least you could get decent food. Don't you love a greasy hot dog for breakfast?

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  15. As a single trk owner/op my wife and I have not used a pilot in over 10yrs. Their fuel is always higher then the other chains, no discounts, fast food is over priced, and no decent parking . Mr. Haslam "you" need to wake up and realize we're not as "stupid" as your employees would like to think we are. As the C.E.O.of these companies you are as guilty as these employees are of this fraud!!!

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    1. And he/they should be charged criminally ASAP, give them their sentencing, and put their butts behind bars!

      What do you think they would do to one of us?

      Nuff said!!!

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  16. Too bad he also has his greedy paws in Comdata, EFS and Goodyear/Firestone national tire accounts. Always thought Pilot was fun by crooks. Now its a proven fact.

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  17. I guess screw Pilot and Flying J. If they are that greedy they don't my business. Was a loyal customer for years. Not any more.;

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  18. Three Legged MidgetApril 26, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    My company give us a list of approved fuel stops. Pilot and Flying J have not been on the list for as long as I can remember. That suits me fine because of the flag issue I mentioned to Sandi a long time ago. I'd rather go to Loves, Petro, TA, or some independent place any day. But you can expect me to start chirping about this matter on the radio when I'm in the vicinity of one of their locations.

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  19. There was a time when you could trust people's words now you better make sure they aren't screwing you. The trucking industry is full of people who will screw you for a dime. Everything from the DOT and companies on down is set up to screw the driver one way or another.

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  20. To the one that said “F--- them early and f--- them often.” I hope you remember those words when you get to prison and every time they hold you down and take turns on you. You'll show what a man you are then and cry like a baby. enjoy your f------- early and often!

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  21. Why is anyone surprised by any of this? The entire US economy is now built on the idea of screwing those that are too busy just working to survive or too trusting to catch the crooks screwing them over. What this company is doing is the same as all of our large banks, financial institutions and corporate employers do every day. Welcome to America 2013.

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    1. Absolutely right!!! Amen!!!

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  22. Don't let them put us behind a smokescreen.

    Here is some additional info that may at least stir some O/O's into rethinking their personal positions:

    The FBI and IRS need to take a look at the companies which dealt with the Pilot/Flying J contracts for Rebates. Many of the trucking companies may have involved themselves in fraud against O/O whom were told to fuel at certain fuel stops so they could get fuel cheaper.

    However, the money may not have been actually rebated back to the drivers whom ultimately paid for the fuel. (Or possibly the company did not pass on the FULL amount of the rebates which they did get, still causing O/O loss of revenue.)

    Now we do realize that there may be some fees companies charge for each transaction on their fuel cards, but there is the possibility that all of the rebates which the trucking companies did receive; did not make it to the O/O.

    So if everyone wants a level playing field, how about furthering the investigation of this travesty against O/O leased to those companies whom are dishonoring their contracts with O/O. The O/O is supposed to be paid a percentage of the freight rates, but any rebates of fuel purchased through the use of the company fuel card should have been FULLY rebated to the O/O.

    What is fair for the goose, is fair for the gander!

    So while all of these companies are so quick to jump on the lawsuit bandwagon against Pilot/Flying J, make sure you don't throw stones while you are living in a glass house yourself.

    And then again, maybe they ought to check these companies fuel tax records.

    I have seen O/O charged fuel taxes for states which they did not even drive.
    in.

    O/O get your records out and force the issue. You have the ball in your hands, now throw it.

    Oh yeah, let's see the sparks fly.

    Surely, all involved are willing to show both of their hands instead of just one hand (with the other hidden behind their back).

    Anyone one of them can come check our anytime, and we'll be more than happy to surrender our records.

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  23. There is something reminiscent about this whole scheme/schemes.

    Adam and Eve also chose low-hanging fruit, when all they had to do was to reach for the highest fruit - the Tree of Life!

    Scumbags like these (and many more to come after these) will end up crawling along the ground just as satan did after God condemned him!

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