Hey, I Want A Free Shower, Too!
One of the negatives of life on the road in the expediting business, is the difficulty in maintaining one's, uh, personal hygiene. That is, bathing on a regular basis.
There's no way around it, it's always a hassle to climb out of that bunk in the morning, get those personal articles and fresh clothing together and throw them in the sports bag and make the trek into the truckstop/travel center.
Once inside, a driver is sometimes taken aback by the cost of a shower, particularly after just filling his/her tanks at that same truckstop. In many cases, if the fuel purchase didn't meet that travel center's minimum, the shower is full price. This policy usually effects the cargo van driver; in most cases he won't be able to put 50 gallons in his tank.
This can be particularly galling to an expediter who might be spending 24 hours or more in that same truckstop waiting for a load, all the while spending money in the C-store, restaurant and garage.
We contacted the major truckstop/travel center chains that we're all familiar with, focusing on those chains which are heavily represented in the traditional expedited freight lanes of the midwest and southern states.
We specifically centered on the issue of cargo vans and smaller truck drivers who do not receive free showers because of the fuel minimums. The staff here at EO and a few of our cargo van expediting friends have reminisced about the "old days" when some of those friendly folks at the fuel desk would listen to our plea and slip us a key and towels at no charge.
The travel center chains we contacted indicated that they expect their personnel to strictly adhere to the shower policies and that they regard an employee giving away free showers to be the same as giving away free products.
With the advent of the computerized shower programs being installed at various travel centers, the free showers are becoming more difficult to obtain from even the "friendly" fuel desk folks.
This is not to say that free showers can never be "promoted" from sympathetic truckstop personnel, it's just that the official company line prohibits the practice.
We asked the major chains listed if there was a possibility of softening the fuel requirements in regards to smaller vehicle sizes, but we were told that no such changes were planned.
FLYING J INC.
147 travel plazas and fuel stops
For every 25 gallons of fuel, the driver receives half a shower credit on Flying J's frequent fueler card or can receive a shower at half price.
A 50-gallon fuel purchase or a $50 Petro:Lube purchase earns one shower credit. A Petro Passport card will hold a maximum of 10 shower credits.
Team drivers can each collect a shower credit, but the second driver's credit must be manually recorded at the fuel desk. No more than two showers may be redeemed within 18 hours. The shower credits can be redeemed at the travel store.
Shower credits are good for ten days. For platinum customers, shower credits have no expiration date.
TRAVEL CENTERS OF AMERICA (TA)
155 sites nationwide
Customers receive a free shower coupon with a 50-gallon minimum diesel fuel purchase. Customers who do not make a 50-gallon minimum diesel fuel purchase will be charged $6.00 for a shower.
At select TA locations, RoadKing ClubTM members can reserve a shower at the TA RoadMile MarkerTM kiosk by swiping their card. The kiosk assigns a number and, when the number is called, the card is swiped again through the new card locks on the shower doors.
141 Travel Centers in 36 states
Present a CDL and receipts equal to or greater than 50 gallons within 5 days of purchase for a shower.
WILLIAMS TRAVEL CENTER
60 locations nationwide
A 50 gallon fuel purchase will equal a free shower, otherwise, it's five bucks.
Some of the independent truck stop/travel centers we surveyed told us of their policies and prices:
THE DETROITER TRUCK STOP - Woodhaven, MI
Bill Vollenweider, General Manager of the Detroiter tells us that his location has one of the more generous shower policies for cargo van expediters - With the fill up of a cargo van or small truck, a shower will cost just $2.00 with a receipt.
IOWA 80 TRUCKSTOP - Walcott, IA
50 gal minimum purchase or $7.00 for a shower.
TE-KHI TRAVEL COURT - Battle Creek, MI
The standard 50-gallon minimum fuel purchase gets you a shower, otherwise, it's $6.50 w/a $5.00 towel deposit.