Flying J Doesn’t Give a Flying F, while Hot Topic and Dollar Tree Both Go Above and Beyond

How people of color are treated at retail matters.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had some customer service incidents.  Pilot / Flying J had no customer service for this person of color. Hot Topic and Dollar Tree both went above and beyond. The dollar amounts were very similar for each situation.

FLYING J Doesn’t Give a Flying F

On June 12, 2022 I visited Flying J in Franklin, KY where premium gas was pumped into my car instead of regular. The cost difference was $7.42 and the manager on duty accused me in front of other customers of pressing the wrong button. The manager was white and condescending about me when speaking to other customers. When I called in and spoke to Janice Lyon of Pilot Travel Centers ([email protected]) she was sympathetic and didn’t seem to see a problem over $7.42. However when Leigh Ann Fox ([email protected]) reached out about the incident she defended Pilot, refused the $7.42 refund and despite my requests did not furnish the footage showing me pushing the premium gas button at the pump. If no such footage exists there is reasonable doubt as far as I can see and the $7.42 should be refunded. It has been a month since I requested the footage and still no response. No response from Janie Lyon or Leigh Ann Fox.

Hot Topic Goes Above

On June 12, 2022 I visited a Hot Topic store where the signage was vague and obstructed resulting in $8 of charges I was not expecting. The employees were stuck behind the counter. After explaining it to the district manager, they not only refunded the $8 difference but added about $20 and gave me Hot Cash that enabled me to save about $90 on a $200 purchase that I subsequently redeemed.

Dollar Tree Goes Beyond

On Thursday July 7, 2022 I returned to the Franklin, KY area and visited a Dollar Tree store only to find that it was closed early due to lack of staff. Gas is pricey right now. I reached out to Dollar Tree and their district manager Apple Pay’d me $6.53 immediately.

Pilot / Flying J Loses a Person of Color over $7 while Hot Topic and Dollar Tree both Gain one for Nearly the Same

This isn’t about being a “Karen” as depicted in social media, “South Park: The Streaming Wars” on Paramount Plus, or anything else. It’s about being treated with respect, being listened to and ultimately a business being happier with a happy customer than being dead set in being ‘right’. Hot Topic and Dollar Tree were in pursuit of a happy customer and Hot Topic in particular was rewarded back for that. But Pilot / Flying J has not submitted pump footage showing me pressing the 93 / Premium button, refused to refund the difference and took great pains / stake to show they were right. And they lost more than they realized.

They lost a regular customer! I used to dine there a lot, eat their food, use the massage chairs and purchase non food products like stickers and Hot Wheels. Now I do none of that. They lost a lifetime of profits over $7 or so – because they had to be right. It would have been more cost effective to refund the $7 or so then the amount they’ve spent on employee wages alone to defend this. I will never understand losing a lifetime customer over $7. Never. And Dollar Tree ($6.53) and Hot Topic ($8) never will have to understand losing this lifetime customer over $7. But the Haslam founded empire known as Pilot / Flying J just hasn’t gotten this yet.

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