BlueOregon: Screwed by Shell Oil: Welcome to the free market, Brent: “Brent DeHart is a member of the Salem City Council, a former president of the state gasoline dealers' association, and an independent dealer of Shell gasoline. And by all accounts, a pretty nice guy.”: “Shell is deliberately pricing their gas higher for him in order to drive him out of business.” (ShellNews.net) 3 May 05
Brent DeHart is a member of the Salem City Council, a former president of the state gasoline dealers' association, and an independent dealer of Shell gasoline. And by all accounts, a pretty nice guy.
But all day today, Brent DeHart has been picketing another Shell gas station just three blocks from his place. Why? Because that Shell station - owned by corporate - is selling gas cheaper than Brent can buy it... from Shell.
That's right: Shell is deliberately pricing their gas higher for him in order to drive him out of business.
Is this wrong? Well, sure. It's predatory pricing designed to wipe players out of the marketplace. Is it bad for Oregon? You bet. Driving independent, locally-owned sellers out in favor of corporate-owned shops hurts our economy. Is it legal? Yup. Here in Oregon, we don't have a law that outlaws below-cost selling - and everything Shell is up to is legal. (Mostly, anyway. They may be violating their contract with Brent, but fighting that battle won't be worth the attorney's fees.)
Of course, here's the fun part: Brent is a conservative, pro-free-market Republican. Like most GOPers, he's wary of government intervention in the marketplace. In an interview today with BlueOregon, he backpedaled fast when asked about whether the legislature ought to step in and outlaw the practice. "I'm not sure we need broad regulation..."
But now that he's getting screwed by the free market, Brent DeHart wants a narrowly tailored regulation to protect his business. Cue Brent: "I can complete head to head with Big Oil if there's a level playing field. Predatory gasoline pricing should be illegal. They shouldn't be able to use their power to target individual stations."
I couldn't agree more. Nice to see a conservative free-market guy like Brent coming around.
For more info, check out Brent DeHart's website: www.screwedbyshell.com
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