Fuel Smarts

Carrier Claims Pilot Flying J Cost it More Than $70 Million

September 03, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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A Tennessee-based carrier is the latest to file a lawsuit against the truckstop chain Pilot Flying J while other legal wrangling continues. 

Photo: Evan Lockridge
Photo: Evan Lockridge

Western Express claims the company cheated it out of $2.5 million, costing it more than $70 million in other expenses, according to a suit filed in Louisiana state court. Attorney’s for the fleet say Pilot Flying J overcharged it by as much as 9 cents per gallon for fuel from 2005 through this year, following a mid-April federal raid on the truckstop’s Knoxville headquarters.

Earlier this year Western Express told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that it purchased $100 million worth of fuel from Pilot Flying J annually and would conduct its own investigation into whether it was cheated out of money from rebates and fuel purchases like more than 20 other fleets have claimed in various lawsuits since the April raid.

Late last week Pilot Flying J was back in court in Knox County, Tenn, saying two fleets were overpaid. It claims Glazier Trucking and Golden Carriers together owe it a little more than $1,500.

Also last week Missouri-based fleet NKC Transportation filed a lawsuit against Pilot Flying J with allegations similar to the many other cases that have been filed against the company.

A settlement between trucking customers who feel they have been cheated by Pilot Flying J and the truckstop was announced earlier this summer. A fairness hearing over it, which has received initial approval from a judge, is set for late November.

Some fleets have said they do not intend to be part of the settlement and are pursuing their own litigation. Pilot Flying J was in the Knox County court asking the case be dismissed because it says they were not cheated.

Seven Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty to charges for their roles in the scandal but Pilot Flying J and Haslam have continued to deny any knowledge of cheating customers.


  1. 1. Dennis [ September 04, 2013 @ 09:07AM ]

    I am not trying to defend PFJ but just wondering what kind of bookkeeping do they have at these trucking companies that they had no clue for so many years that they were being cheated.

  2. 2. John [ September 04, 2013 @ 07:30PM ]

    I agree with Dennis' comment. In over 7 yrs time, none of these companies thought there was anything wrong. Now, after it has been brought out that small companies were getting ripped off by PFJ, bigger cos. are claiming massive deficits. Western Express bookkeepers couldn't see they were losing $10 mil per year? Maybe the W. E. CEO needs to hire NEW accountants.

  3. 3. John [ September 05, 2013 @ 05:35AM ]

    I only have 25 trucks on the road and I go over my daily report very carefully. For even a small company, 1 to 5 trucks on the road, this is TRUCKING 101 !!!!! Just think, all those big companies will now have to deal with the OBAMA IRS. Try telling them you made a mistake years ago. Did anyone say: AUDIT

  4. 4. Stormy [ September 05, 2013 @ 05:45AM ]

    Western Express knew in 2008 and Pilot/Flying J had to purchase a plane from them for $1,000,000 and Western continued doing business with Pilot/Flying J nobody watching that rebate like a hawk? How many billions were they making that they didn't notice millions? Sure makes me feel foolish watching to be sure no driver missed $10 on a fuel advance and going over log sheets every quarter. I understand the staggering rebate amounts due to daily changes but at some point that red ledger is going to start getting so big it should flash lights and sound alarms. I am sure it had to - - so why would the accounts pretend it was the elephant in the room? Their argument makes truckers sound as ignorant as Pilot/ Flying J said was how they got by with this. I believe Pilot/Flying J should pay back every dime they scammed but to say they cheated you out of $2.5 million is hard to get a grasp on. Then to argue that $2.5 million kept you from spending $72 million is ludicrous. Good old American greed at it's best. Like the rest, I in no way defend what Pilot /Flying J did but neither can I find any defense for what Western Express is doing. Attention all IRS and DOT auditors.. bring them all... apparently Western Express has no grasp on or any conceivable control on their accounting system.

  5. 5. Jack [ September 05, 2013 @ 07:37AM ]

    Evan, Can you provide a link to the litigation?

    How did Western Express calculate $70 million in damages?

  6. 6. Jim B [ September 07, 2013 @ 08:45AM ]

    I have had many a fight with the company I am leased to with my single truck. Consistently, Pilots fuel was always overpriced as compared to other truck stop chains in my area. Even though I used the my companies TCH card, I prefer to fuel at LOVES or MR Fuel because they don't hurt me as bad on my weekly settlements. Sometimes the price difference between TA and Pilot/Flying J versus LOVES and MR Fuel can be as much as $0.20 per gallon. I am only a one-truck operation and it wasn't hard to see that Pilot was out to screw people and how these over educated large fleet operators were not smart enough to see the issue early on is their own fault. Many moons ago I used to be a fuel tanker driver for a major truck stop and I know first hand that all fuel sold to consumers and truckers regardless of retailer is in fact the exact same fuel. A few truck stop chains have an injection system on location that injects around 3-gallons of additives per ever 7,500 gallons of fuel but this does not warrant higher cost to end user. Without giving away too much information, the additive is no different than the one gallon jugs of Lucas Fuel Treatment we all purchase and add to our fuels. In the end, all diesel fuel for a given region comes from the same loading racks shared by all petroleum haulers for the various truck stop chains. With that knowledge, I only purchase from the cheapest retailer NOT including the non-American small chains which have been popping up all over the place because the fuel they are buying and selling us is the diesel fuel rejected by the major chains due to high water content and questionable quality. Having been a fuel hauler, you learn where to buy the best quality diesel fuel for the cheapest cost at the pump. In my area, Pilot/Flying J and TA are two major chains with the highest cost and I don't purchase that fuel.

  7. 7. Donald [ September 07, 2013 @ 10:29AM ]

    About time larger company's realise this. I've been a small independent for 20 years always paid cash, and I try not to stop at the larger chains because they are gouging the industry. Then discount the large fleets 5 to 15 cents per gal yet charge me pump price when I pay cash! Now here we stand with slim choices other than the 3 large chains so shame on you large company for giving them the power to monopolize the industry !!!

  8. 8. Johnny [ September 09, 2013 @ 02:11PM ]

    You can't cheat an honest man.


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