Coming up short

Complimentary dog biscuits are no longer being handed out at Ashland's A-Tech 76 service station south of town.

That was one of the first changes made after former longtime manager Ana Delfosse was fired by the station's owner for falling behind on her daily gas payments.

"One day I was there, the next day I was gone," said 80-year-old Delfosse, of Ashland. "Just like that, after 20 years. I couldn't believe it."

According to Delfosse's former contract with the station owner, Truax Oil of Corvallis, she was required to deposit a percentage of each day's gas revenue into a company bank account on a daily basis.

Delfosse said she was three days behind on her payments, about $12,000 worth, when she was shut down by a district supervisor for Truax Oil on July 26.

That was a Tuesday, the day after Delfosse had spoken over the phone with John Truax, owner of Truax Oil, to explain her situation and ask for a 30-day extension on her payments, she said.

"He said he would think about it," said Delfosse. "The next morning they had a replacement manager and the district supervisor at the station."

Delfosse tried to get in contact with Truax after getting the order to step down as manager, but he wasn't available, she said, and that was it.

"Just the way they went about the whole thing was total disrespect," she said. "I felt insulted after putting so much of my energy into making that station successful."

Delfosse said the reason she was behind in her payments was because she allowed some of her high-use customers to buy gas using a monthly or 45-day tab. Those customers would use the station to fill their gas tanks for that span, and receive a bill from Delfosse at the end of it.

A monetary gap left by Delfosse's tab-paying customers, from the amount of gas sold in a day versus the amount of gas paid for in a day, got to be too much for her to make up. "That's where I messed up," she said.

When the station's service and repair garage was doing well, Delfosse used the extra revenue from it to make up the difference with the daily gas payments. Business for the garage fell off drastically in the last year, though, she said, and it no longer produced enough revenue to make up for the unpaid gas.

She started depositing personal checks to fill the unpaid void, she said, and two or three of them bounced over the course of a year.

Maria Truax, wife of John Truax and spokesperson for Truax Oil, said after receiving the bad checks, the company sent a letter to Delfosse, early last June, informing her that if she made another late or invalid payment, her contract would be terminated.

"We had multiple conversations before that about the importance of making sure those funds were accounted for on a daily basis," said Maria Truax. "We'd been working with her, but we let her know that it couldn't happen again."

Delfosse said she was in the process of ending her tab payment plan when she was let go. "All I needed was that 30 days, and everything would've been fine," she said. "I really thought that they were going to give me a helping hand."

Delfosse said she isn't sure what she is going to do now, but that she doesn't want the station back. "It's all about the money with them; like nothing else matters, and I'm sick of being around that," she said. "Just like getting rid of the dog treats; who can't afford $5 a week for a bag of dog biscuits? It just doesn't make any sense."

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