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Tesoro billing problem surfaces as some Fargo customers charged double

FARGO - Chris Berdahl of Fargo was surprised when he noticed he was charged double for the gas and cigarettes he bought.

Berdahl had recently visited two Tesoro gas stations in the area, and his debit card was double-billed at each station.

When he called one of those stations, a Lewis & Clark convenience store on NP Avenue near Third Street North in Fargo, Berdahl discovered he was not alone. The manager told him it was a Tesoro problem and gave Berdahl a corporate number to call.

Berdahl talked to a corporate official and was told he would get a refund.

"We have talked to the one or two (customers) it happened with," said media liaison Clark Erikson of Petrol USA, the corporation that owns the Lewis & Clark station.

"But that is Tesoro's deal, not ours," he said of the billing.

Tesoro Corp. is a Fortune 150 company that produces and markets petroleum products. It has seven refineries, including one in Mandan and more than 800 branded stations.

Tesoro has not released the name of the company it contracts with for billing nor the number of people affected by double-billing.

Mike Marcy, Tesoro's manager of external affairs, said some of the company's transactions were duplicated or double-billed sometime between July 11 and 14, "and we are still getting our arms around it."

"We have made it clear to our contracted payment processor how angry and how unhappy we are with this," he said.

Macy said the payment processor committed to reversing duplicate transactions by July 16.

This commitment was not honored with Berdahl, whose money was held until July 18.

In response, Marcy said, "Then that commitment has not been fulfilled."

Berdahl was forgiving about the computer error, but he was angered by what he considers poor customer service from Tesoro's corporate representatives on the phone.

"He made me feel like I was inconveniencing him. The person on the other line did not even apologize," he said. "I didn't hand them extra money. They essentially stole from me and expect us consumers to just let them walk all over us."

Bredahl said Tesoro officials told him that if he was charged overdraft fees because of the duplication, to take it up with his bank.

"This got me upset because they are the ones that messed up, and it should be their responsibility to fix it," he said. "How many people did they do this to? What if someone couldn't pay their bills?"

Marcy believes banks will waive such fees, but if customers' banks are hesitant, the customer should contact Tesoro's retail service center at (877) 783-7676.

"This is a difficulty that we have never experienced before," he said. "We are chagrined, and we apologize to all of our impacted customers."

Area residents such as Karen Groninger of Moorhead had some suggestions for businesses that make these kinds of mistakes.

"People feel scared when something like this happens," she said. "Tesoro should send a formal apology to these people with a coupon or at least post something public."

Glenn Myrold of Fargo took a more philosophical approach.

"I've been overcharged at grocery stores, but sometimes you get it back when they give you too much change," Myrold said as he enjoyed a chocolate milkshake inside the Lewis & Clark station.

"I feel like I've been double-charged with the price of gas," he said.