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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pilot Flying J may be in legal trouble again, this time over its credit card holds policy.
Two proposed class-action lawsuits allege the Knoxville-based company failed to warn customers that there can be a hold for an amount much higher than their gas bill placed on their credit card accounts when they pay at the pump, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Last week, Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball, and lawyers Thomas C. Jessee and Lance Baker, filed two lawsuits against Pilot Flying J. One lawsuit is in Jefferson County Circuit Court and the other is in Sevier County Circuit Court.
Each lawsuit lists one plaintiff. However, the attorneys are seeking class-action status to represent all Tennessee citizens who have purchased gas at a Pilot Flying J location using a credit card and then found a large hold placed on their accounts.
According to the news report, the lawsuits allege the company routinely places a hold for as much as $75 to $100 for customers filling up passenger vehicles and as much as $500 for truckers.
"That is not done by the retailer," Emily LeRoy, executive director of the Tennessee Fuel and Convenience Store Association, told the news outlet. "It is by the credit card company or bank that issues the credit card. Their rules and how they manage those holds is their business, and retailers have no control over it."
However, Regions Bank said in a statement to the Knoxville News Sentinel that merchants can set the amount of the hold based on how much the intended purchase might total — such as the cost of a complete fill-up. The hold is on the account until the actual sale amount posts to the account, or three days (whichever is shorter) and the retailer has no control over that.
The lawsuits allege the travel center company doesn't disclose the hold, causing customers to be unable to use the amount of credit represented by the difference between the actual gas purchase and the hold.
Such notices aren't required by law, but some convenience stores do post the information as a courtesy to their customers, the newspaper noted.
The hold is only placed when a customer opts for the pay-at-the-pump option and not if a customer leaves a credit card with the cashier. In that case, the card is only billed for the actual amount of purchase, according to the lawsuits.
The latest legal challenges are not related to the alleged fraud in Pilot Flying J's fuel rebate program.
Pilot Flying J has 650 retail locations throughout North America.