Boycotting BP Stations Only Hurts Local Communities
It's nearly eight weeks into the BP oil spill disaster, and more and more Americans are getting frustrated and angry about the level of destruction and the oil giant's inability to get a handle on the plume of crude polluting the Gulf of Mexico.
Even though President Barack Obama is also taking his lumps for the seemingly improvisational tone of his administration’s handling of the disaster, the anger building against BP is reaching a new level. Toss in the fact the oil behemoth is restricting access to wetland areas and hiding much of the damage from the public eye, and the perfect storm for corporate brand disaster has already passed the point of no return.
For consumers who want to punish BP with their wallets, are some of the proposed boycotts of BP gas stations really going to do anything?
“The stations that sell BP-branded gasoline are independent businesses that have a contract to sell a brand of fuel, and even though the lengths of those contracts vary, some last as long as 10 years,” Jeff Lanard, vice president of communications for the National Association of Convenience Stores told me. “Most of the stores that sell gas in the nation (56%) are one-store operators. That’s the people who get hurt by boycotts like this, not BP.”
Lenard’s point is simple: gas station owners contracted to sell BP-branded gasoline might not have any choice but to stick with the tainted brand until their contract expires. These stations are owned by small business owners, and boycotts, while well-meaning expressions of consumer outrage, sometimes affect business owners who have nothing to do with the company. By boycotting these local small businesses, Americans may be cutting off their nose to spite their face.
“The corner store is the logical place to express your outrage,” Lenard said. “It might feel good, but in fact, it’s a very bad thing. If a corner store, not owned by BP, goes out of business, that’s more people on the unemployment line, and lost tax revenue. It actually would hurt your own community.”
The NACS also is quick to remind consumers about the fact that BP also supplies refined oil for other gas station brands. So you could be skipping that BP station on your way to fill up your car and buying BP gas, unbeknownst to you, at another non-BP branded station down the street.Continued on the next page