Fleet News

Allstar problems continue

Fleets are threatening to find an alternative fuel card company after losing patience with Britain’s biggest provider.

Several weeks after Allstar customers first started having problems accessing account information and driver data, issues still remain.

David Astley told Fleet News that he had been trying to get basic fuel consumption information to help reduce his annual £60,000 fuel bill.

He said: “When I finally got through and asked for help with the MPG report, the operator didn’t know what MPG was.

“On a second call to one of their analysts, I asked when I would be able to use the reporting system only to be told they didn’t have any dates.”

Another Allstar customer, Linda Spooner, who has been with the fuel card company for around 20 years, described the situation as “a shambles”.

She claimed: “Not only does it take forever to get through to anyone on the phone, sending an email asking someone to contact you is a waste of time because they don’t bother.”

FleetCor Technologies bought the Allstar fuel card business from BNP Paribas at the end of 2011 for £194 million.

As part of the acquisition agreement, it has been migrating 30,000 Allstar customers from the Arval system to the FleetCor processing platform during the past two months.

Responding to comments on the Fleet News website, Fleetcor marketing director Jakes de Kock apologised for the ongoing problems caused by the software migration.

“Resolving these inevitable teething problems is our top priority and we have added 40 heads within our customer call centre to cope with the additional traffic and to get service levels to an acceptable level,” he said.

“In no way do we want to encourage our very valued customers to discontinue working with us. We are working as hard as possible to resolve any issues and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Thousands of drivers could be hit with tax bills

Paul Jackson, managing director of TMC, warned that in a worst-case scenario, thousands of drivers could become liable for private fuel benefit because many employers rely on fuel card data to calculate payroll deductions.

Jackson said: “Unless it is 100% clear that an employee has covered 100% of their private fuel costs for the year, the employee is liable for fuel benefit and the employer liable for Class 1A NIC of 13.8% of the benefit amount.

“HMRC is under no obligation to make allowances for your reimbursement process breaking down because your fuel card supplier wasn’t able to invoice you.”

The issues experienced by fleets have been compounded by the announcement from Allstar that customers will have to pay for the privilege of using its services after it introduced a ‘network service fee’.

The move will cost fleets thousands of pounds, with many claiming that the fees have been poorly communicated.

Joanne Johnson, who only signed up to Allstar in August, 2012, said the terms and conditions stated the company had to inform her of any changes.
“The notification was a new ‘T&C’ page inserted in with the December invoice,” she said. “Allstar has confirmed that nothing else was included to flag this change up.”

Allstar defends communication of charge

“Charges were also not mentioned in the ‘Important Account Changes’ pamphlet we received on December 24,” added Johnson. “I am currently looking at changing our cards.”

Allstar said the charge is unavoidable if it is to maintain its network and develop ‘value-added services’ for customers. The size of the fee will depend on fuel usage, but Allstar said it will be no more than 2% of a customer’s overall fuel bill.

The RAC’s business services director David Aldridge said fleet would feel let down by the move to introduce fees at a time when fuel prices are high.

“This news is even more disappointing and ironic as the company is an active supporter of the FairFuelUK Campaign,” he said.

The RAC is developing its own fuel card, which it says won’t carry a transaction fee.

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  • Nigel Davies - 27/02/2013 11:27

    Like other fleet suppliers, if Allstar become uncompetitive due to new charges, we will have to look to alternative providers. Allstar have for many years been a good supplier but under the new ownership cracks are appearing. With over 300 cards, the costs could be significant and if the service remains sub-standard, the decision becomes easy

  • Linda Geddes - 27/02/2013 11:42

    Looks like Jakes de Kock needs to add "Up" to his name in future! The service since the changeover has been utterly abysmal. If they are going to have the cheek to start adding new charges for an inferior service we will certainly be changing to a new supplier. I did not receive any new T&C page with my December invoice so this was news to me.

  • Paul - 27/02/2013 12:46

    Convenience isn't the be-all and end-all solution for fuel procurement on the road. For drivers covering a lot of miles it becomes easier to find one of the branded sites. It is just a matter of driver education and short-term pain does give long-term gain. Negotiate the right deal and the 4p per litre savings are achievable consistently. I speak from experience because we changed from Allstar in 2009 and we now operate a Branded card and a Keyfuels card (which is also owned by Fleetcor, which is why I'm keeping a close eye on developments here). If I detect any attempt by Fleetcor to offer us the same service and/or pricing policy as the Allstar card then I will be looking for a replacement for them quite quickly. But for me, the biggest disappointment is that all the effort that fleets, and individuals, have put into supporting the FairFuelUK campaign, with some success, can be wiped out by the greed of Fleetcor/Allstar. In my view it seems that Fleetcor think that the UK customers were prepared to pay the extra duty for fuel and now that the government aren't taking it then they may as well have it instead. Totally my own opinion but Quentin Wilson should take Fletcor/Allstar to task with this and at least kick them off the FairFuelUK campaign because they are making a mockery of all the effort we put into it. Only yesterday, I received another email from FairFuelUK urging me to write to my MP to cut duty in the budget. Well I don't think I'm going to bother this time. Why? Because the government won't listen when they realise that someone else is willing and able to pinch their extra duty and the UK drivers/companies are willing to pay it. Fleetcor have therefore done more damage than they probably realise and I would much rather pay the government an extra 2.5p per litre than a greedy margin-based corporation. At least that way you're getting value from your money by seeing it re-invested into the country.

  • Henry Hutchinson - 27/02/2013 14:32

    We have been having problems for months with the reports, or lack of them, and today have discovered the 'network charge'. I managed to get through to the call centre for explaination of the network charge and was told there would be a feedback session and would I like to add my name to this list......I informed them not to bother and we would be finding an alternative supplier as per De Kock's advice "Some customers are not going to be happy [about the fee] and they are obviously welcome to go to another fuel-buying solution.”

    • Graham Brown - 28/03/2013 11:05

      @Henry Hutchinson - I have just done the same and moved to another company, £2 service charge per transaction, what service!!!!!!

  • Lesley Watson - 27/02/2013 19:34

    Please can Mr de Kock explain to me the following:- a) Invoice dd 13/02/13, total fuel&carwash purchases £619.48, service charge £24.00. When I went to school that equalled 3.87%. b) Invoice dd 20/02/13, total purchases ££464.98, service charge £16.80. Again, that equals 3.6%. I would like to challenge Mr de Kock to explain to me how Allstar equates these figures to "no more than 2% of a customer's overall fuel bill".

  • Anne Wilkinson - 15/04/2013 17:08

    Allstar should be renamed Nostar - because I have had exactly the same problems as those given above. Have tried continually contacting Allstart via e-mail and phone only to find - no response. I finally did get hold of someone on the phone who actually told me that I could not possible have the cost centre I was referring to as it was not on their system!!!!!!! I had the invoice in front of me which clearly stated the cost centre I was endeavouring to find out information on. I think Shambles does not go far enough - fiasco would best describe the total lack of customer service - I am just about to do a report on why we need to move away from them quickly.

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