Gas Station Owners React To Boycott, Ditch BP Franchises

The knee-jerk reactionaries boycotting BP by not buying gas at the company's franchises have made such an impact that station owners are starting to ditch the brand in favor of competitors.

First thing's first: Assuming you're some kind of environmentalist hippie and don't own stocks, a solid first option is to stop purchasing directly-sold merchandise like lubricants sold under the Castrol brand.

Let's say it again: Boycotting actual BP stations has little or no effect on the bottom line of the BP mothership.

With few exceptions, most BP stations, like most gasoline stations in the country, are independently operated and sell fuel under a franchised brand. BP crude oil is mixed with oil from other suppliers at refineries and sold to wholesalers as various refined fuels, who in turn sell it to fuel retailers at the station. Some BP stations may have 50% BP oil, some may be zero, and some competitor stations may have BP-drilled gasoline at the pumps. Even the station owners don't really know.

In short, instead of hitting BP in the pocketbook, all this goofy boycott does is hit station owners in their pocketbooks. You know, some of those small business owners we hear so much about in the running of America's economy. Many operators are locked into five-to-seven-year franchise agreements with BP and have no good way to dissociate themselves with the Gulf of Mexico disaster and the ensuing PR nightmare it caused. Those stations are seeing as much as a much as 40% decline in sales.

Some retailers are either not in a contract or ending franchising agreements and abandoning BP's sinking drilling rig as fast as they can. Station owner Fred Asmar, who operates a station in Detroit, is ditching BP in favor of Sunoco. Even though replacing the signage at each of his outlets will cost around $50,000, he considers the expense worth it — the disorganized boycott is killing his business.

Funny thing is, the only thing that'll change is BP will lose the small franchise fee; Asmar will probably be purchasing fuel from the same wholesaler, and his pocketbook will be $50,000 lighter.

There is, of course, another thing not being considered in this whole mess. What if hell freezes over, the boycott works, and BP goes out of business? Who cleans up the mess then?



[Freep]