The Federal Trade Commission has filed an administrative complaint against FleetCor and its CEO, Ronald Clarke, for charging customers hundreds of millions of dollars in mystery fees associated with fuel cards. FleetCor, marketing under the “Fuelman” brand name and through co-branded cards with businesses around the country, falsely told its business customers that they would save money, be protected from unauthorized charges, and have no set-up, transaction, or membership fees. In reality, according to FleetCor’s own records, customers generally have not achieved the advertised per-gallon savings by using FleetCor’s cards.
The FTC filed suit in federal court against FleetCor and Clarke in December 2019, alleging that they charged hundreds of millions of dollars in hidden and undisclosed fees to their customers after making false promises they could save customers on their fuel costs. However, in a ruling earlier this year, the Supreme Court determined that the FTC was not able to seek redress for consumers under section 13(b) of the FTC Act. In an effort to ensure that the agency’s case against the fuel card marketer is still able to recover money lost by consumers, the FTC has filed a new administrative complaint which alleges that FleetCor and Clarke violated section 5 of the FTC Act.
“FleetCor fleeced its customers out of hundreds of millions of dollars through its dishonest practices,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC will do everything it can to get money back to FleetCor’s business customers and unsuspecting fuel card users by refiling this complaint administratively. We will also continue to work with Congress on a broader legislative solution following the Supreme Court’s decision in AMG, which has hindered our ability to recover redress for families and honest businesses.”
The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint was 4-1. Commissioner Noah Phillips voted yes but dissented in part as to the inclusion of Ronald Clarke as an individual defendant. Commissioner Christine S. Wilson voted no, including as to the inclusion of Ronald Clarke as an individual defendant, but concurred in part as to Counts III, IV, and V against FleetCor.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The issuance of the administrative complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be tried in a formal hearing before an administrative law judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.