Line One
Dashboard Confidential
Don’t be cruel with the fuel, fool

By Dave Sweetman


I love what I do. In spite of some of the glitches of our industry, I go out of my way to be friendly to most everyone.

But I have my limits.

I also understand that there are some bad people in this world, but I am not one of them. I refuse to be lumped into that group because I drive a truck.

Recent examples prove my point.

Diesel is expensive, and there are bad boys who have committed the sin of driving off without paying. I have never done so, would never do so. And, like the vast majority of drivers out here, I pay my own way. So why am I treated like a criminal at the fuel desk?

At the Flying J in Latta, SC, I tried using my frequent fueler card in the card reader at the pump and was rejected with the note, “See Cashier.”

Inside, I stood in line for 10 minutes, and was told to produce payment as a security deposit. As I chose to pay with cash, I asked for a receipt for the $500 deposit. The surly, attitude-laden woman behind the counter would not give me a receipt.

I asked her why I should trust her with my cash when she didn’t trust the card that shows my home address and billing info. In return, I got more attitude.

When I asked for the manager, I was told that she was the manager. I politely told her that I was glad her business was so good that she did not need mine, prompted her to cancel the transaction, and left the property. I will never return.

Crossing to the other side of the interstate, I went to the Wilco and found the women behind the counter to be not only cordial but more than happy to let me spend my money without treating me like a thief. Guess where my fuel stop will be the next time through SC?

That is not the first, nor the only, instance of power-hungry fuel clerks making me change my buying habits. This summer on a trip back from Boston, the TA in Branford, CT, had me come inside to turn on the pump.

After wasting 10 minutes standing in line and showing my credit card, they wanted to hold my driver’s license until I fueled. I respectfully declined, as I will not release it to anyone but law enforcement.

She then wanted to put the license number in the computer. I again respectfully declined and asked her if she had ever heard of identity theft. She said it was “policy.” I never argue with a clerk on a matter of “policy,” as they are usually doing what their boss says. I found it best to void the transaction and go elsewhere.

I understand the need to prevent drive-offs and keep losses in check, because thefts raise prices.

What I do not understand is why a company puts me through all of that time-wasting, nerve-racking, annoying procedure to verify the info in the card – credit and fueler/loyalty cards. You have runners, whose job it is to verify the license plate and company info. Why do you treat me like a thief?

With all of that said, I will note that I have a fuel stop directory and a damn good memory. I am also armed with a Sharpie to cross out stops that do not deserve my business. I am only one piddly owner/driver. If you treat me worse than I deserve, I will go elsewhere. And I have a big mouth. I tell all of my trucking friends.

Now I told you.

Refuse to be treated like a thief. We deserve better. LL


Dave Sweetman can be reached at