Howdy Road Crew! Well I normally make truckstop reviews now and then about individual places of business, but tonight I’ve had it with Pilot-Flying J truckstops as a whole. If you tuned in while I was doing any of my LIVE broadcasts, you would have heard me talk about the good or bad at just about every truckstop as we visited them. Over the years my personal view of Pilot-Flying J has been less and less favorable. I remember the days when Pilot was a great place to go for coffee and customer service. Those days seem to be a rarity nowadays. Quite often when I visit a store, I see 5+ customers in line, a single cashier, and one or two other folks behind the registers doing something other than helping get the customer out the door. The fuel islands are usually clogged and delayed simply because the line to check out is slow moving. Ok, so, that isn’t my main complaint. Let’s talk about my visits to three different Pilot stores TODAY, April 20, 2018….
Pilot #77 in Jackson, Mississippi – I stopped exclusively for coffee. Long lines but at least three registers were open. Coffee was fresh, but something was wrong with it – the taste was totally off from what I have come to know as good Pilot Coffee. It was bad enough that after two sips, I decided to just wait until I stopped again at the next Pilot. Not sure, but perhaps they brewed it with the wrong settings compared to the amount of coffee grounds?
Pilot #355 in Rayville, Louisiana – Again stopped exclusively for coffee since the first attempt didn’t turn out so well. This place was even worse. I bring in my ProPhil thermos and find out that the lights were all blinking. No sweat, I was going to overlook that and get coffee anyway until I saw that NO sweetener was available at all. None. No yellow, no green, no blue sweetener available at all. I would have asked the cashier for some sweeteners but the line was long and only ONE cashier. I really wasn’t in the mood to wait in line then wait for someone to get the sweeteners, then make my coffee. I just left with an empty thermos.
Flying J #665 in Greenwood, Louisiana – walk in to get a cup of coffee at the end of my 632 mile day. The first thing I noticed is EVERY coffee pot was blinking and there were multiple cups of coffee just sitting around. That told me other customers poured their coffee then noticed it wasn’t anywhere near being fresh! I asked the manager if someone could make coffee and she didn’t seem thrilled about it. She more-or-less huffed around but did start draining the old coffee, clean the filter holders, then start brewing new coffee. While she was doing that, three other customers showed up waiting for coffee. I pointed out the little red decal on just about every pot which states that if the coffee is blinking or not available, it was FREE. She looked at me and said “Boy, I’m glad you know how to read. Oh well, who cares“. WHAT? Seriously? Is this the way you talk to your customers because they asked for fresh coffee? Literally, word for word, that is what she told me. I waited and finally just walked out the door. I was not going to wait in line just to argue about a free cup of coffee……
Now, here is the kicker: I have run into the blinking pots before and the red decals on the pots. When I point it out, most of the cashiers tell me that free isn’t what it really means. I point out the four letter word, and they argue. It states plain as day if not available or not fresh, it is free. Ok, so I admit, sometimes it is just easier to pay for the coffee than to argue over such a small thing, but, at some point it gets old. Pilot-Flying J uses the phrases “Best coffee on the Interstate”, “…made fresh every 60 minutes or sooner…” yet this seems to be far from what I find in reality as I truck across the nation day after day.
The last thought I’d like to bring to your attention is their new ProPhil Thermos. It is a great thermos and it is advertised as getting 5 free refills with purchase (if you use your rewards card). I have bought three of them now. One for myself and two are being mailed to Germany. Shouldn’t that mean I get a total of 15 free refills to use? Nope! I got the initial five free, but then have had to call corporate EACH time and fight for the other ten refills. Why should I have to call corporate and fight to get what they advertise? I have (had) plans of purchasing alot more thermoses to give away as contest prizes on the BigRigTravels website and other uses, but if Pilot makes it so difficult to honor their own advertising, I am now seriously rethinking my plans.
Poor customer service. Poor coffee experiences. Less than appreciative customer relations at the store level. Pilot-Flying J is at very serious danger of losing a 12 year customer that is willing to give up ever stopping at Pilot again. I can get free coffee refills at LOVE’S truckstops without any hassle at all through their rewards program. I suppose I better start training my tastebuds to give up on Pilot coffee and learn to enjoy “hassle-free” Love’s coffee. They certainly seem to LOVE their customers more!