Pilot Pirates

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A friend of mine recently bought $50′ worth of gas using his debit card and was charged another $150 for it. Pilot – the company the that owns the station where he filled up (and got drained) apparently has a  “policy” of applying “authorization fees” to gas purchases made with ATM cards. A “hold” is placed on additional funds – beyond what you just thought you spent on the gas you pumped. After a day or two, the “hold” is relinquished but in the meantime, Pilot enjoys the float – the use of your money, which it effectively seized for its own uses.

This sounds as criminal as it is unbelievable – and yet, it’s no lie. ABC News in Amarillo, TX confirmed what my friend in another part of the country related just happened to him. According to ABC news story, Pilot denies placing the “hold” on customer’s funds; it says that it is their customers’ banks – the issuers of their ATM cards – that are doing the “holding.”

But according to the banks, that’s not true.

We believe the authorization is coming from Pilot. They control their gas pumps for authorization fees, so we do believe it’s Pilot,” said Amarillo National Bank Electronic Bank Manager, Beth Stewart.

This dirty business goes far beyond the business commonly practiced by banks and online financial businesses that use your money for sometimes several days at a time by pretending it takes time to transfer it from one account to another. In fact, the transfer is instantaneous; it happens at keystroke speed. But over the course of the 24-48 hours they say it takes to “process” the transaction, they have use of your money. Of a lot of people’s money. It amounts to an interest-free loan probably in the amount of many millions of dollars in the aggregate.

But you – the source of the funds – don’t get paid a cent for this use of your money. Indeed, you are sometimes charged a processing fee for the transfer!

But at least the banks aren’t charging you for purchases you haven’t made – as appears to be the case with regard to some gas station chains. As mentioned earlier, my friend had an additional $150 effectively drained from his bank account after he used his ATM card to purchase $50′ worth of gas at a Pilot station. The same thing happened to a woman named Edna Cuellar after she filled up – and paid up.

She then discovered she’d paid for much more than she thought she just bought. “It’s unheard of. I don’t need them to be holding $151 dollars back. I have things to do with that money.”

As did my friend.

“What if I had planned to go grocery shopping after filling up,” he asked me? Well, if the “hold” placed by Pilot encompassed all the remaining funds available in his account, he would not be buying groceries. Meanwhile, Pilot would be making money on the money they’d effectively “borrowed” for a few days.

Keep in mind the most outrageous aspect of this dirty business:

When a person uses an ATM/debit card to buy something, the cost of that something is immediately debited from the account. That is what an ATM card is all about. It is not like a credit card, which sends you a statement – that is to say, a bill – for the credit you used to make a purchase using the card. If you don’t pay the full amount, then you get hit with interest charges on the money you effectively borrowed from the credit card company. But the funds in a debit/ATM account are your money and they are spent just like cash in your pocket except you don’t actually handle the money. Instead you swipe or scan the card. But the exchange is fundamentally the same.

Except for one thing.

As my friend (and Edna Cuellar and probably lots of other people) have found out, ATM cards can be used to make people pay for more than what they thought they were buying. It’s theft, in other words – without the up-front-about-it honesty of a thief who grabs what’s in your wallet. These electronic thieves just drain your wallet.

Oh, but they give it back after a day or two and maybe three; i.e., they release the “hold.” It would not matter if they gave it back after five minutes. The relevant fact is that they are “holding” what’s not theirs and – apparently – it’s entirely legal.

. . .

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  1. I just love how the woman in the video acts all surprised to find out about the temporary “fees”, only to say “not that we care” towards the end. These dildos deserve to get their asses reamed.

  2. BRKa is 524 thousand dollars per share, down from 528 thousand. Warren doesn’t worry much.

    It is a sight to see young Jews from New York board flights to Israel to go fight Palestinians.

    They should all go, it’s their fight. Every single Jew in New York and anywhere else in America should leave for Israel immediately. Good luck to all of them, they’re going to need it in a bad way.

    Makes America Great!

    Plus, the dogs of war don’t care.

  3. This is a known issue with the banks – been known for almost 20 years. Some banks handle this situation so you dont get dinged the $150.
    Before we had debit cards there were only credit cards, and the transactions went over the credit card ‘system’.
    That system allowed only two operations when a card is swiped – CHARGE and AUTH.
    CHARGE means ‘try to charge this credit card for X dollars’.
    AUTH means ‘can this credit card be charged for X dollars?’.
    When you use AUTH on a credit card it would hold the funds pending until a CHARGE came through, or some time passed. This was ok for credit cards because it wasn’t real money, and pending only impacted your credit balance for a few hours.
    Since debit cards use the same system as credit cards, the banks also hold the funds from your account.
    The banks can use thier accounting systems to reduce the hold, and to remove the auth after the charge comes in.
    Many small banks do this, but chase and b of a cant handle it.
    All credit and debit transactions go through the same system

  4. This sounds ridiculous.

    Gas stations typically work like this:

    1) Put a hold on your credit card for the maximum allowable transaction (like $150 at pumps around here)
    2) You pump the gas, it debits the hold.
    3) You pay, actually get charged, and the hold is released.

    Gas stations do this so that they know you have enough credit limit to pay for the gas you’re about to pump. The hold isn’t a charge, it’s just a “reservation”.

    If Pilot is actually charging people, they need to get their asses sued.

  5. Eric,

    Pilot isn’t the only company that places holds on your funds if you use a debit rather than a credit card. Car rental companies do it too; I know, because it happened to me! Before I got a credit card, I’d just use my debit card if I couldn’t pay cash, which was rare for me years ago. When I went to rent a car when I visited Chicago like 20 years ago, I got hit with a hold; fortunately, once you turn the car in, the hold is released. But yeah, Pilot is far from the only company doing this.

  6. This just adds another reason to the long list of why I pay cash for just about everything. Another one, not too long ago, is that I was at a gas station and the credit card system was down. The lady who worked there said “unless you pay cash, you can’t buy gas right now”. I got gas, of course

  7. Ignorant humans! This is not theft. It is exploitation of your ignorance. You have entered into contract when purchasing goods with a credit card. This contact states various conditions. One of which is that funds can be withheld at the credit card owners discretion. No law has been broken in this case. You have only discovered your ignorance when dealing with someone that has been smart enough to lure you into a contractual relationship that is to their advantage.

    There are other options to avoid this exploitation. The government has kindly arranged for the creation of Federal Reserve Notes which it has ordered be legal tender for all debts public and private. Why would you give up these government backed notes to a bank in exchange for their electronic permission to spend them? This is foolishness. I would remark that the stupid deserve their fate, but I am too nice for that and will only say that it is unfortunate that you have made such a mistake.

    • I am not crazy about the tone, but Ly is correct. It is not the merchant that is requiring it, but the credit card company. The way it works is Visa and Mastercard require a merchant to either place a hold on the account or they (the merchant) have to absorb the loss or the chargeback.

      This usually only happens when a sale has not been finalized (e.g., fuel, renting a car, or checking in at a hotel). Sales that have been finalize (grocery store purchases, retail shops, etc.) no authorization is required.

      The credit card companies usually will not put a hold on a credit card (a few do, but rarely). They will usually enforce them on a debit card.

  8. I have never used an debit/ATM card, nor will I. I have avoided countless/pointless problems doing this. I don’t understand why most people expose themselves like this. Maybe they need problems to keep busy?

    • I can’t say that. Back when I was working, I didn’t work banker’s hours, nor could I get to the bank during their business hours on weekdays. If I hadn’t had an ATM card. I’d have been screwed.

  9. This is intriguing

    I always wondered about the time asymmetry in a credit / debit transaction.

    I have transferred a lot of funds from bank to brokerage and vice-versa.

    The debit to your account is instantaneous, but the credit to wherever you moved the money somehow takes 1-3 business days.

    I’m suuuuuuuuuuuuure nobody is making money off my money in the meantime.

  10. I think what most miss is when you put your money in the ‘bank’,,, your money now is no longer yours,,, it belongs to the bank! They can do whatever they want with the money.

    Banks also hold and use your check deposits. Some will hold the funds from you for up to ten days and use it without your permission or knowledge. Also from what I understand they now can confiscate some or all of your account called a Bail In. Right now they are laser focused on the 401k accounts

    • Hi Ken,

      Indeed. I once got into an argument with my ex-wife over the 401k thing. She wanted us to put more money into it. I wanted to put no money into it. I told her I believed that we might as well just burn the money as it will be taken (or rendered value-less) by the time we’re allowed to withdraw it. I italicize the latter to emphasize a further objection to these “plans,” which is that by joining them, you lose control over what used to be your money.

      • The only reason I participated in a 401k while working was that my company matched the first 6% of my contribution. For all the drawbacks, that’s free money that I wasn’t going to turn down. I always kept my 401k investments in conservative non equity funds so that I never took a big loss along the way. I’ve been retired for about 10 or 12 years now, and having that 401k money has worked out pretty well. Would there have been better investments out there when I was 30, 40 years old? Probably. Would I have participated in them if 401k’s didn’t exist? Probably not.

      • Yeah when you start debating a woman about this stuff its over. Hopefully you have your life partner now man. I’m still looking.

        • Hi Mark,

          It depends on the woman – and the man! I have – had – a friend who I’m no longer friends with because Orange Man Bad. I am not a Trumper, but I have asked him why he practically has a meltdown when Trump is mentioned yet is indifferent, even apologetic about Biden. He cannot give me a policy reason. That is, a rational reason. It’s just . . . Orange Man Bad.

  11. Check into a hotel with a guaranteed rate, and often the total applied to your credit card (most prohibit debit cards) is 10 percent more than what you bargained for.

    It’s a deposit, which gets refunded later. But they don’t tell you unless you ask. And often there’s no written documentation.

    Shrinkage is when people steal from businesses. Reverse shrinkage occurs when they steal from you.

  12. Funny how all these old banking rules that were established when transactions traveled at the speed of mail still exist, at least when they’re advantageous to the retailer. The reason why they “hold” $150 is because of batch processing. Instead of authorizing every transaction in real time, they save ’em up until midnight, then upload them to the bank in one file. Then the bank reconciles the accounts. There’s absolutely no reason for this system to remain in place today, yet it persists for the reasons Eric points out in the piece.

    You think that debit card rules are bad? Look up the Byzantine way checks are cleared. I believe they still use 9-track magnetic tape! One of the reasons why checking accounts aren’t really checking accounts is to get around some of these systems, but it also has the benefit of turning every account into a savings account (IE not 100% in reserve), but every good libertarian already knows that.

    • ‘Instead of authorizing every transaction in real time, they save ’em up until midnight, then upload them to the bank in one file.’ — ReadyKilowatt

      These ‘speed of mail’ rules point back to the Federal Reserve, which still flew paper checks around the country long after most nations moved to real-time electronic settlement. Even now, the Fed runs an antiquated fifty-year-old payment system called Automated Clearing House, which can’t guarantee same-day delivery.

      That’s why third-party vendors such as Zelle and Venmo — which severely compromise privacy by harvesting personal details — sprang up. Eeeeelon made his first billions on PayPal, another third-party workaround to bypass horse-and-buggy banksters using fountain pens and inkwells.

      Seniors get a taste of these third-party infestations every October, during Medicare’s open enrollment period. Big Gov mails a thick 8-1/2″ x 11″ booklet to millions of households. It presents dozens, hundreds of options for Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D prescription drug plans — each with different ‘coverage,’ deductibles, co-pays, premiums, etc. Let’s go shopping! /sarc

      The byzantine complexity of Medicare’s third-party payer options has spawned an entire industry of agents and consultants. Because of scams analogous to long-distance carrier slamming, agents are now required to (1) impose 48 hours notice before a telephone conversation; and (2) record the conversation.

      All this because the US fedgov designed it that way, rife with opportunities for insurance mafia obfuscation and chiseling. Enjoy your golden years, comrade!

      • “ byzantine complexity “

        Oh it certainly is! And that 8 1/2 x 11 booklet solves nothing, thus the ads on the local news for Medicare Consulting. The booklet is just a confusing mess of many words telling you nothing.

        When I retired the Company offered a spendy but comprehensive Medicare supplement plan – the wife’s medications were fully covered no “donut hole”, if I’d opted out (no going back on that plan per the rules) we would have spent dearly for meds not covered under the usual supplemental or advantage plans. Well, that ends Jan ‘24, Company letter tells me my spendy plan goes away and we’re transferring to an Advantage Plan, woo hoo free Silver Sneakers and meals on wheels! No word yet on what the drug formulary covers, but hey it’s “0” dollars monthly instead of the $685 I’m spending now. I have an ill feeling the “bargain plan” will end up costing more per month when it all washes out.

        This gets to the current perversion of medical “coverage”, it isn’t insurance which should exist for one reason, to prevent financial wipeout for a catastrophic event. It should also be negotiable for what level of risk you are willing to assume, like my car insurance at $1000 deductible keeps my rates reasonable and I’m not going broke over a $1000 exposure.

        I think most people have no clue as to the schizo rules in the Medicare system – good luck when your 30 days are up in that care facility but hey you can Silver Sneaker a gym membership and get 7 days of meals at home once they boot you out of psychical rehab!

        • Absolutely, Sparkey –

          Insurance is supposed to mean you pay a little in to cover against the remote possibility of a major loss that will probably never occur. Instead, “insurance” is used to pay for everything, right down to physical exams. This is like using “insurance” to pay for tire rotations and oil changes – and those would cost many times what they do if they were “covered,” too.

          • Another lobbied into the rules scam is the “free” Medicare annual wellness check, I had just been in for my annual chat / scrips renewals with the doc then his office drone called “we need to schedule your Medicare wellness check!”
            “I was just there, everything’s fine between me and doc”
            “But, but, ….” “Is this some mandatory Medicare thing?”
            “No but it’s freeeee!” I firmly reminded her she was paying taxes for the “free” visits, also my additional visit was taking an appointment slot for no reason and that time slot is better used for someone that really needs it. They haven’t asked again in 5 years. What a scam, it’s pushed for guaranteed revenue for the Healthcare group he belongs to.

            • Hi Sparkey. I did the free annual medical check once, never again. Doc didn’t check anything but my heartbeat, and then spent 1/2 hour asking questions that I’m not about to answer. Do I have a gun, do I feel safe at home, am I food insecure, do I have trouble paying my bills, etc. Fuck that, you know that’s going straight into some government database. Thanks but no thanks.

          • Anytime the insurance industry can weasel their way into a new product, they will do so.

            As most know, I do not carry health insurance, or dental, or vision, or prescription. I save up the money that I would have sent to Anthem each month and put it toward our family’s preventive or emergency care.

            What I was surprised by was the amount of people that now have pet insurance. To diagnosis our Lab with bone cancer it cost $2156. Just to diagnosis. No pain meds. No operation. Nada. Just to confirm that he has cancer. Of course, the first question is “do you have pet insurance?” “No, why would I?” The receptionist shakes her head and frowns as she comprehends my situation.

            I paid it (thank god it didn’t have to go to Anthem), but I am wondering how much it would have been in the days before pet insurance became the norm.

          • >This is like using “insurance” to pay for tire rotations and oil changes – and those would cost many times what they do if they were “covered,” too.

            Yep. You might as well have “bread insurance,” just in case you have the uncontrollable urge to eat this month. Now we can talk about your per loaf “co-pay,” and what types of bread are allowed on your “plan.”

          • Insurance is one of the biggest scams in human history. Pay a certain amount each month/annually/etc., and when/if the unthinkable happens, denied. And now that insurance is “mandatory”, it’s officially a tax.

            • Hi Bluegrey,

              Yup. I maintain that for most people, in most circumstances, insurance is a fool’s bet. The risk of a heavy loss is low while the certainty of heavy costs (for the “coverage”) is just that. Most risk can be greatly reduced by prudent/responsible action and what remains can almost always be covered by the person himself, with the money he still has, not having spent it on insurance.

              • Insurance is nothing more nor less than a bet against yourself. As in “life” insurance, where you bet the insurance company you will die this month. You bet the auto insurance company you will crash your vehicle this month. You bet the medical insurance company you will get sick this month.

        • Hi Sparkey,

          Do you or anyone else know if one is forced to get on Medicare? If we choose not to have Medicare is that an option? I am two decades away so it is likely it will bankrupt itself by then, but I really don’t want to participate.

          I may inquire if I can write off my paid Medicare premiums as a charitable contribution?

          • When I retired 4 years ago, basic Medicare was NOT an option. All it covers is hospital care. Doctor visits and pharma coverage was optional and cost extra.

            • If I remember the screwball rules are basic Medicare automatic, the rest is optional but you’ll pay higher premiums as a penalty for not signing up immediately, when first eligible, if you decide later to sign up. Oh yea, pay in for 40-50 years then pay monthly premiums to boot.

              I don’t know if you can proactively opt out or they just leave you signed up regardless. I also don’t remember if the basic is a monthly cost or not. Part D drug coverage another can of worms to sort out.

              • What’s interesting is that you paid into Medicare all along. But legally, that’s a TAX, not a prepaid premium, so if the Clowngress changes the rules to screw toy, its not a breach of contract.

          • Hi RG. When you turn 65, you’ll get Part A and B automatically, but there’s no cost for A. You have to opt out of part B, but make sure you do your homework because there’s all kinds of crazy rules. If you opt out and then want in down the road, you’ll pay more for the rest of your life, unless you were covered under another approved plan within the last x number of days, the Sun rose in the west last Tuesday and other typical government gobbledygook. Know all your options and choose wisely, otherwise you could be hosed for the rest of your life. I could be wrong, but I don’t think you can opt out of part A, but there’s no cost for that anyway.

            • Hi Floriduh,

              Thank you for the information, but what assigns me to Medicare? I currently don’t have health insurance so it wouldn’t be the health insurance company or my employer that would tell me to hit the road. Does the government notify us?

              What happens if I just say “no, I don’t want it.”

            • Okay, I found it. One can opt out of Medicare Plan A, but you lose your Social Security benefits and any SS benefits that one has received to date must be paid back.


              Nothing like the government putting a gun to one’s head and stating “pay this tax” and then forty years later another gun shows up “take these benefits or you will lose all of your other benefits that we forced you to pay in.”

              What a racket.

              • It’s not just the government, it’s the insurance companies too. When I became eligible for Medicare, my wife is 4 years younger and was still working. We decided to keep me on her work policy for supplemental, as that was the least expensive option. Insurance company said that I had to take part A, otherwise they wouldn’t cover me. Their reason was why should they pay for hospital care that I can get from the government at no cost to the insurance company. I guess that makes sense from their perspective. I keep thinking more and more about what George Carlin said. “It’s all bullshit, man. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!”

                • Hi Floriduh,

                  When my father turned 65 the health insurance provider (Cigna) kicked him off my mother’s insurance (was part of her retirement package). When she turned 65 a year later they gave her the big heave ho, as well.

                  My parents hate Medicare. The premiums they have to pay are absolutely ridiculous. If they could have gone with a private plan and forego the Medicare they would have happily done so.

                  The last thing I want is government snooping through people’s medical records.

    • RK, checks are still printed with magnetic ink but the old way of processing checks died a while back. While I was no expert due to being young and not around during the sorter’s heyday, I do have experience repairing check sorters. Check sorters still exist, but banks no longer use them. AT&T did as of 2 years ago for bill payments (they still might but I don’t repair their sorters anymore), but banks have moved to Branch Capture. Tellers now scan checks through a desktop machine in real time instead of sending them out for processing. There isn’t much difference in a debit card or a check these days in terms of time to process, the only difference is whether a human was needed to put it into the system or not.

  13. I won’t flog the deceased equine with regard to ownership of Pilot, but I highly recommend reading a few of the annual reports going back about 15 years or so, around the time that Capo Gecko acquired the railroad and started manipulating national energy policy to his advantage, particularly with regard to pipelines.

    His latest racket is a slush fund to finance generators to charge EVs at Pilot/Flying-J, which is included in the November ballot here in Texas disguised as a proposal to pre-purchase “backup” generating capacity in the state using a piece of the budget surplus that the election is about dividing among the various “made” interests in government and private entities.

    • How old is the Sage of Omaha? 93! More proof that only the good die young.

      But I seriously doubt his hand has much to do with day to day operations in any of the conglomerate’s many, many arms. I’m sure he gives tasit approval to any of their sketchy businesses practices, if only through the selection process.

      • Capo Gecko loves his “float”.

        Reading between the lines, I believe the Capo has big plans for his various rackets to be part of the all-EV future.

        I also think he’s noticed the rise of Buc-ee’s and would like a piece of that action. The Beaver is also shameless in squeezing tax payer money out of government at various levels in order to build his empire, much like The Capo.

    • I appreciate your insight into the ballot issues in Tickass. Only in Texas would they term back up generating capacity as a charging station for electric vehicles.


      • Also on the ballot is what the RINO Texas Governor term as property tax “reform”, but the truth is that they are just kicking the can down the road two years to keep the real estate market from cratering in the state as interest rates rise.

    • There’s a reason why Warren Buffet is one of America’s richest. I had the misfortune of dealing with one of his insurance companies a while back. I (forcibly) had to buy workman’s comp despite working from home as a contractor and ended up getting it from one of his insurers. When it came time for me to cancel the policy a year later, they made me go through hell and high water to cancel, including faxing them a bunch of private documents. Then they stuck me with an “audit” bill. The guy is a total crook.

    • Hi John,

      Indeed. A CBDC would give the government the ability to prevent people from buying gas or anything else government deems BAAAAAAAAAAAAD. The government could also shut our own money off for various reasons, including not taking the latest mRNA “vaccines” RECOMMENDED by the CDC, “Buying too much meat”, attending a rally for Trump or some other “unauthorized Presidential candidate”, opposing the Neocons’ push for endless war, or even protesting the Biden Thing.

        • Considering that the government and the globalist/ technocratic elite doesn’t want the masses using gas period, with a CBDC, if we were to try to purchase gas with our own money, the government could use the carbon footprint trackers they also wish to force on us to say “NO gas for you!”

        • When you are born the globalists/vatican/corporation take control of your trust account…the Cestui Que Vie Trust ……. you can’t access it….and use it as collateral to finance everything they want….

          when you die the vatican becomes the beneficiary and gets your money….the end of the contract is displayed….on your gravestone in all upper case….ie dog latin….with your corporate/slave name



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