After reportedly assuring they would aid them in spending less on gas, the Federal Trade Commission said that U.S. fuel card firm FleetCor Technologies Inc. billed clients hundreds of millions in “hidden” charges. The agency asked a federal judge in Georgia through a court filing to stop FleetCor, along with its chief executive, from charging hidden fees and also to disgorge ill-gotten proceeds, Yahoo Finance reported Friday (Dec. 20).
The FTC said in its complaint that FleetCor had marketed payment cards to firms with vehicle fleets, noting that they would save money, that there were no transaction or membership fees, and there would be controls for fraud. After customers had signed up, FleetCor reportedly charged them “at least hundreds of millions of dollars in unexpected fees” per the FTC.
The agency said that tens of thousands of clients had sent in complaints to the Better Business Bureau and/or government bodies. It also accused the company of billing clients for finance charges, programs and interest to which they had not consented. FleetCor did not immediately respond to a request for comment to Yahoo Finance.
FleetCor, however, said in a statement that it “strongly disagrees with the FTC’s complaint, which the FTC Commissioners were not unanimous in approving, and believes the FTC’s claims are without merit. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves against the FTC in court. Importantly, this lawsuit is limited to the directly-issued portion of our U.S. fuel card business, and we believe these matters are not and will not be material to the financial performance of the Company.”
FleetCor also stressed that its “customer disclosures are clear and communicated repeatedly.”
In February, a Bloomberg report surfaced that fleet payments company FleetCor was facing criticism when it came to fees associated with its fleet cards, which small businesses (SMBs) say are too high. The issue mirrors the debate over payroll card fees and raises new concerns over fees connected to card products for businesses, with the inclusion of interchange fees.
The publication reported late last month that FleetCor charges “more than a dozen fees” for professionals to use the card, including a $.10-per-gallon or $2-per-transaction fee noted as an account administration charge. There are also fees if the fleet cards go unused and fees connected to paying card bills via wire transfer.
Consumer advocates, as well as some small business customers, are criticizing the company for the charges, noting they take advantage of customers.