Not just for the big boys

The twin-turbine Bell 412 helicopter I fly for Baptist Hospital in North Carolina sucks a lot of Jet-A. This is why when we land at FBOs, the line crews have big smiles.

And when it comes time to pay for that fuel, I just whip out the familiar white and blue Multi Service charge card we keep in the aircraft.

For over 25 years, Multi Service has been offering services, worldwide, to its aviation customers.

It is a one-card approach for fuel purchases, maintenance, catering, charters, and training. But the primary users have been the big boys. You know, the Jet-A set with their pilots all decked out in white shirts and shoulder-mounted epaulets, ordering fuel, catering, and special treats for Muffy the lap dog who always travels with Mrs. Big.

Meanwhile, little guys like me have to carry a packet of brand-specific fuel cards or put the aircraft stuff on the Visa or MasterCard. Or at least that’s what I thought.

In March I was at the Helicopter Association International convention where Enstrom Helicopters, which manufactures two piston and one turbine model of light helicopter, announced its new cobranded Multi Service card for customers. I met Multi Service Project Manager Roger Padgett to find out more. As it turns out, Multi Service cards have always been available for the smaller business aircraft operator, they just didn’t make it that obvious. That is until now.

“I have a Cardinal RG that I fly for and is registered in my business,” I told him. “Is this the kind of customer you are looking for and can the card be helpful to me?” The answer was a solid “affirmative.” Padgett provided me with an information pack, including an application.

Cruising through the pack, I took special note of the e-Business Solutions, which allows cardholders to view current statements and invoicing details, view and request statements, verify past statements and billings, dispute specific invoices, and approve and download invoices to their local accounting system.

This sounded great to a small business owner like me, who has had to compile data from multiple cards to keep track of my airplane accounting.

The card application took less time to fill out than to file a flight plan. Jamie Bolejack then became my point of contact for the process. A real person, friendly, with a real direct phone number. I faxed in my application March 24, and received my card April 10. I also received instructions for setting up my Online Billing Service, which I did.

The only glitches that caused a delay in my card delivery were from my end of the deal.

My banker wasn’t available for a couple of days to respond to their bank reference request. And the other curve was when I put “C77R” on the application as my aircraft designator. Yes, it is the correct one to use for flight plans, but Multi Service’s database didn’t recognize it.

They tried something close and must have gotten the space shuttle because Jamie called and asked if I really needed a $20,000 limit?! (They determine your credit needs based on the aircraft designated and your estimated monthly usage.) We quickly got that kink ironed out.

The day after my card arrived, I left on a weeklong trip with my RG. All I can say is that the Multi Service card was the only one I used for my airplane at numerous small FBOs, with no problems.

One difference in this program versus other cards is that billing statements are issued weekly, with a 14-day due cycle. I was wondering how I’d like that, since I often go for a week or more without seeing my mail. But then an email popped up after my trip telling me that my statement was ready. I went on line, verified the charges, printed the details and statement copy, wrote the check and mailed it. (I also could have paid online.)

I can tell you that as a small player in the business aviation world, I really like this card. It simplified my aircraft-related purchases, emptied my load of brand-specific aviation fuel cards, and took the airplane off of my business Visa. It also is going to be especially nice for my year-end accounting.

Now, where’s that catalog with the white pilot shirts and epaulets?

For more information: 913-451-2400 or MultiService.com.

gmaher@southern-aviator.com

Guy R. Maher has been involved in aircraft sales and type-specific training since 1972. With more than 12,500 hours in GA airplanes and helicopters, he currently flies an IFR EMS helicopter, is an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor, and provides consultation and testimony on operational and safety issues for legal proceedings.

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