A couple of years ago I began working at a large industrial site, out in the middle of nowhere, more than a one hour drive from Dickinson, North Dakota where I live. Early on I realized that I was spending about $100 per week on gasoline for my vehicle to get to and from work. $100 per week, times 52 weeks per year, that’s $5,200 per year in gasoline cost.
I talked to the CPA who does my taxes, and a co-worker of mine talked to the CPA who does his taxes, and both of these CPA’s told us that neither our gasoline cost to get to and from work, nor our vehicle mileage was deductable on our Federal Income Tax Return. This $5,200 gasoline cost per year for my commute to work comes out of my own pocket.
Since May of 2019, I started buying fuel primarily from the M&H Gas Station on Villard Street in Dickinson. For the past ten months, three to four times each week, I buy fuel at this M&H Gas Station.
Today I did a search of my on-line banking checking account statements to view how much money I have spent at this M&H Gas Station in the past ten months. I had $2,516 worth of debit card charges at M&H #22, seven pages of bank transactions just for M&H #22. Because I sometimes pay with cash for gasoline when I go inside the store to buy drinks and snacks, I have spent about $3,000 at this M&H Gas Station in the past ten months.
Yesterday when I got to the job site where I work, I received a call from a Dickinson Police Officer. He told me that the M&H Gas Station had reported me for driving off without paying for gasoline. I didn’t understand what was going on, I paid for my gasoline at the pump with my debit card, did the transaction not go through?
The Police Officer said, that the M&H clerk told him that I did not pay with my debit card according to what she saw on the surveillance video. I said that I would go back and pay the following morning. The Police Officer said O.K., he would call and let them know.
At first I was kind of confused, and I didn’t understand. I had said to the Police Officer, “How could I even pump gas without either pre-paying or using my debit card at the pump?” I looked up my online checking account statement to see if a $21.00 charge for M&H had gone through, it had not.
I called the M&H Gas Station and said that I would come to the store tomorrow morning. The store clerk said that I could look at the store surveillance video recording tomorrow.
The Police Officer who called me was O.K., he was acting like I just forgot to pay. The store clerk who turned me in to the Police, “Kristin”?, she was acting like I must have just forgotten to pay. Most readers would think that this situation was no big deal, but to me it is, and I will explain why.
I didn’t answer my phone the first time around when the Police were calling me, because I thought that it was a waste-of-time telemarketer. I almost didn’t answer my phone when it later began ringing again. If the Dickinson Police had been unable to reach me by phone, and instead stopped me on the street or came to my apartment with some kind of arrest warrant, I would have freaked out, protested, resisted arrest, because I would not have understood what the Police were talking about, certainly they must be mistaken.
How could I be charged with driving off from the M&H Gas Station without paying for fuel, I get fuel there three to four times every week for the past ten months, what do you mean I didn’t pay, when didn’t I pay, how could I have gotten gas without paying?
The other reason why this was a big deal to me, is because every year I have to fill out a form/questionnaire and undergo a nation-wide FBI criminal background check of both my name and my fingerprints, in order to continue my employment. A co-worker of mine failed his background clearance because of a gas-station drive-off, even though there was a deferred prosecution of criminal charges.
To emphasize what I am saying, I would not have understood why I was being charged with a gas station drive-off when I use this gas station three to four times per week, and I didn’t even know the gas pumps would work without pre-paying or using a debit card. And, being charged with a gas station drive-off would probably cause me to fail my yearly background check and lose my employment.
I paid the $21.00 the following morning at the M&H Gas Station in Dickinson. I called the regional manager for M&H Gas Stations in North Dakota, “Kevin”. I explained to Kevin, what had happened. I explained to Kevin that I have bank records showing that I have spent about $3,000 at this M&H Gas Station in Dickinson in the past year, I go there three to four times every week, why couldn’t they just have waited for me to come in next time?
I also explained that calling the Police on me is possibly going to cause me to fail my yearly background check and lose my employment. Kevin explained that this was just store policy. I said O.K., if I spend this money at your store, come to your store three to four times per week, and you are going to call the Police on me for $21.00, then it’s my policy to never use M&H Gas Stations again.
I called the corporate headquarters of M&H Convenience Stores, Miller & Holmes Inc., located in Hudson, Wisconsin. I talked to a couple of women there, who were both polite and they discussed what happened with me. Kim Haggerty, who is kind of like a vice-president, was supposed to call me back today, but she did not.
I think that I may have gotten them to consider that if you own a business, and you have a customer that comes to your business three to four times per week, and has spent $3,000 at your business, maybe you shouldn’t call the Police on them if they forget to pay $21.00.
M&H Gas Stations can handle it this way if they want to, but since they called the Police on me, and because of the problems that this could cause me, I will never use an M&H Gas Station ever again.