Trucker Chronicles
Blown tires add up to one big headache

by Donna Carlson

On Sept. 12, OOIDA member Scott Denniston and his wife Michelle were backing into a space at the TA in Maybrook, NY, when he saw one of the trailer tires blow. When he got out to check, he saw that two of them had blown; one on the front axle and one on the rear, both right-outside.

The one on the rear, which was the first to go, had yellow PNV bollard paint around the tear. The second was ripped at the sidewall. The tires were nearly-new Bridgestones and Scott had just finished paying for them.

After checking around the tires Scott spotted a problem with the PNV bollard (also called a "homeplate"). Instead of the Allen-type recessed bolts, this one was anchored to the pavement with four large all-threads sticking up at least three-quarters of an inch beyond the top of the homeplate that was tightened down with hex-nuts.

Scott went to the fuel desk and asked for a manager and says he was told by the counter attendant that no manager was available but she was "in charge." Scott explained the problem and says he was surprised when she said, "Well, you're the one who backed over it aren't you?"

Scott said he would wait for a manager and soon, assistant manager Robin Beach appeared.

"He treated us very well," Scott said. Beach gave the couple breakfast on-the-house, but told them he believed they had an issue with PNV and not the truckstop.

Scott called PNV and spoke with a customer service rep. He wasn't able to get her full name, though. Just "Alicia."

"No problem," said Alicia, "just fill out a claim form with a validation from the TA management and a receipt for incurred expenses."

"Beach followed us out to the truck, took photos, and filled out the forms," explained Scott. Then Beach faxed all the paperwork off to PNV to Alicia on the Denniston's behalf.

Great, thought Scott, no problem

Two replacement tires at the TA shop cost Scott $782.32. "I had little choice but to do this (replace tires there) in good faith as I was under freight to be delivered," he said.

Before he left with his load, Scott alerted both Beach and the shop people at the TA about several other bollards near his lane that had bolts protruding out of the lids.

"In fact," Scott said, "the guy in the shop let me know it was PNV's problem and he would probably be selling a lot of tires. He said he gets a $30 commission on each tire if it's not on a national account."

The next day, Scott attempted to contact Alicia at PNV several times to ask how the claim was going.

"She had led me to believe it would be taken care of right away," he explained. "I needed to open up that money on my Visa."

Be sure you are dealing with the right person

Each time he called Scott was told Alicia was either at a meeting, away from her desk, or gone for the day. OOIDA tried to call, too. Two days later, Scott finally spoke to her. The fact is, he shouldn't have been dealing with Alicia in the first place. She told him that she had submitted the claim to Susan Moschetto, her superior. Susan had sent them to the insurance company and Scott would have to wait to be contacted.

"I told her I'm usually difficult to get hold of and asked for the insurance agent's number," Scott said. "She insisted that it was unavailable."

At this point, Scott called Land Line to see if something could be done to warn other drivers about the hazard at this particular TA.

"I'll bet there are truckers who have driven off not knowing where or how they blew their tires," he said. "I feel TA should take responsibility for the hazard on their property. I think they should have just replaced my tires and charged back PNV. I know this is how it would go if I had time to take it to small claims. Who knows how long this thing with PNV will drag on? With fuel prices the way they are, I sure don't need this expense right now."

When you need a little help

After contacting OOIDA's Business Services department for advice, Land Line called the TA and left a message for Gary Matson, the general manager. Matson called Scott to tell him he was aware of what had happened and promised to look into it right away. And he did just that.

Scott and Michelle contacted Land Line on Sept. 20 to say that they had been in contact with Matson again. Matson credited Scott's Visa back the full $782.32 for the tires. He said PNV had also promised to contact their area service agent to fix the bollards.

Land Line contacted Susan Moschetto on Oct. 6. She was very concerned and said she would follow-up to make sure the "homeplates" had been fixed.

"Truckers are our livelihood," she said. "If PNV is made aware, we will try to fix any problems right away." Those same sentiments were echoed by PNV spokesperson, Lisa Miller on Oct. 9. She confirmed that all the "homeplates" at the Maybrook TA have been repaired.