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Think twice before boycotting BP

June 21, 2010 - Bill Speer

Americans are rightfully upset and angry about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It would not be a good time for any BP oil employee to show up at communities along the Gulf coast and expect to receive a warm greeting.

There has been talk of Americans taking out their anger and frustration against BP right now and boycott BP gas across the United States. Admitedly, in theory it sounds like a good idea. In practice, however, it would quickly backfire.

According to a recent story in the New York Times, of the 11,000 BP gas stations in the United States, only a small number actually are owned by the company. The rest are franchise stores which are actually owned and operated by local residents. The exact number of BP-owned statons is unknown, but in 2007 the company owned just 700 stores and those were all up for sale.

Thus, any boycott at the local pumps is having but a minimal effect on the comany, but a significant impact on the local franchise owner. I don't think was the intent of those advocating the BP boycotts right now.

And, many would argue that the best way to get revenge on BP for this disaster that they've made is to extract as much money as we can from them to adrdress the costs associated with the spill, rather than leave American citizens paying for those costs. Toward that end all of us had better hope that the depth of BP'S wallet rivals that of the depth of its Gulf drilling. The next worst thing that could happen right now would be for BP's reserves and assets to dry up and the flow of money to evaporate.

Boycotting BP sounds good. It sounds fair. It even sounds sexy.

Unfortunately, boycotting BP would only makes things worse, not better, and hurt the person who also does business from you  and your family. It would be like trading one type of disaster for another.

Who needs another business in town closing its door?


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