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Author Topic: Why Gas Boycotts Can Never Work Back to Topics
Champion Author

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Apr 13, 2010 3:21:54 AM

In order to have a successful boycott, four major factors must be true. They are:
1. The boycotted entity must be capable of making the changes demanded.
2. The boycotted item must have a readily available substitute, or not be essential to the boycotters.
3. The boycotting group must be able to sustain a critical mass of people willing to participate long enough to force change.
4. The boycott must reduce consumption enough to materially affect the boycotted entity.

Let’s consider gas boycotts and how they match up to the list.
Can the boycotted entity make the changes demanded? Well, retailers cant. They make less than a dime a gallon. How about refiners? Here is Exxon’s latest annual report. Their highest US downstream profit for a year was about 1.7 billion. But in order to get those profits, they were refining about 311,000 barrels of oil a day. Considering a barrel yields around 20 gallons of gas, that gets you to 22 billion gallons, with about a 2 billion dollar profit. The profit margin is again around a dime.
So who is making the money here?
The US government says not the retailers or refiners. They are about 7% of the cost. Taxes are around twice the effect at 13% The big bite goes to the oil producing countries. Those countries manipulate supply all the time, and react to a demand reduction by further constricting supply.
Clearly, “Big Oil” or the retailer cannot satisfy the boycott demands. Even working for free, they could only make $3.00 gas $2.80 gas. So, is there a readily available substitute? This is not table grapes. We simply are in need of oil to run the modern world. Plastics, chemicals, gasoline…all are products we do not have acceptable alternatives for at this time.
Can the proposed boycotts reduce consumption? Not the brand or “gasout day” boycotts. Consumption continues at the same pace. Even if you have a “drive-out” day, the consumption going forward is going to remain the same. Permanent small cuts can be met with production cuts, and the price maintained. Further, this is a worldwide commodity, and the demand in other nations is growing at a huge rate. Even if we cut our imports by a third, the growth in China alone will more than make up for our reduction.
Finally, can the people maintain a boycott? This is arguable, and I maintain that the instant gratification society could never do it. Others may differ.
In summary, we have seen (and provided links as evidence for) that three of the four factors needed for a successful boycott are impossible. Calls to boycott a station, or not buy gas on a day to “send a message” are complete wastes of time. The energy spent chasing false ideals is much better spent finding ways to permanently reduce your individual energy use, or working with others on policy changes which will increase short-term oil availability while creating long-term alternates.
REPLIES (newest first) Topic is locked
Rookie Author Milwaukee

Joined:Jun 2007
Message Posted: Nov 23, 2012 11:06:22 AM

I've run gas stations for years. I pray people would boycott in my local area. It would give me a chance to arbitrarily raise my prices between the beginning of the boycott, and the time it takes for everyone to realize that they have to buy fuel to survive in our modern world.
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Nov 22, 2012 3:05:27 AM

Reminder to those who experience sticker shock on their Thanksgiving trips...boycotts are not going to lower prices...see the above.
Champion Author Ogden

Joined:Jul 2012
Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 6:19:09 PM

nonsense...I'm going fishing
Champion Author Ogden

Joined:Jul 2012
Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 10:30:40 PM

you can't figure it out?... Really
Rookie Author Erie

Joined:Sep 2012
Message Posted: Sep 17, 2012 9:38:20 AM

Everyone wants a revolution, NO ONE wants to pack a lunch
Rookie Author Maryland

Joined:Sep 2012
Message Posted: Sep 17, 2012 6:34:28 AM

Pretty much.

Do you guys really think that a boycot would ever work? I can't get my girl to fill up on base (lower prices) because it takes 5 minutes longer to go through security. If she doesn't care enough about that, how would you ever convince someone like that to boycot?

Want to actually buy less gasoline? Ride a motorcycle. 65MPG on a bad day with my 650 and some hypermiling.
Champion Author Victoria

Joined:Jul 2009
Message Posted: Sep 16, 2012 10:08:32 AM

Wow! I see the same 3 individuals are still here every single day desperately trying to convince everyone not to boycott. Too funny!
Rookie Author North Carolina

Joined:May 2011
Message Posted: Sep 11, 2012 5:09:11 PM

You can never get everyone on the same page for a boycott. People don't listen and are too thick headed. Why do you think you see people at a station that costs 5 cents more than the station one block away, they don't pay attention.
Champion Author Winnipeg

Joined:Oct 2002
Message Posted: Sep 11, 2012 2:08:25 AM

"I consistently run my own on dealers who are gouging the public"

Isn't it funny how, if some stations are a couple of cents higher than others, they are "gouging", but if all stations are the same price, they are "price fixing"?
My belief is, finding a slightly less expensive station and purchasing there is no form of boycotting, it is just a bit of smart shopping, no different from checking Sobey's and Marketplace flyers for the best price this week on coffee or deli meats.
Champion Author Virginia Beach

Joined:Mar 2005
Message Posted: Sep 11, 2012 2:02:59 AM

It won't work.
Champion Author Winnipeg

Joined:Apr 2011
Message Posted: Sep 8, 2012 5:19:33 AM

Nice concise bit of work catfish99. While I don't believe boycotts will ever work, I consistently run my own on dealers who are gouging the public, even if for a few cents. It will never make any difference to anyone but me but it honors that bit of a rebel in me.
Rookie Author Indianapolis

Joined:Sep 2012
Message Posted: Sep 1, 2012 2:09:33 PM

Champion Author Missouri

Joined:Jul 2012
Message Posted: Aug 29, 2012 3:22:25 AM

It takes hundreds of millions of drivers not to purchase gas for at least a week to make a boycott work. This would never happen in the U.S., since we have all the big city driver's and the rich off setting a real true boycott.
All-Star Author California

Joined:Feb 2012
Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 5:33:04 AM

We will never win this in my lifetime
Rookie Author Virginia

Joined:Aug 2012
Message Posted: Aug 23, 2012 3:52:12 PM

Finally! Someone that understands!
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Aug 23, 2012 4:46:13 AM

Watch it if you believe in 1000 MPG cars which could be on the road now had we stopped BIG OIL from buying the patent and murdering the inventor.
Rookie Author Missouri

Joined:Dec 2009
Message Posted: Aug 22, 2012 5:06:28 PM

watch the documentary GAS HOLE to understand why and how the gas prices are fixed.
Veteran Author California

Joined:May 2012
Message Posted: Aug 22, 2012 2:42:50 PM

Don't do it
All-Star Author Fresno

Joined:Jun 2009
Message Posted: Aug 22, 2012 6:17:40 AM

Rookie Author Oklahoma

Joined:Jul 2008
Message Posted: Aug 21, 2012 11:57:27 AM

I definitely agree with the 3rd factor and that is you have got to have enough people who are serious about doing the boycott. It is true that we all need to use oil and gas and that a prolonged boycott of these products would never happen, but spot boycotts at certain times during the year by everyone might get 'Big Oils' attention. We need to do something when prices just start shooting up for no apparent "logical" reason other that just 'Big Oil' or 'Wall Street' trying to gouge the consumer.
All-Star Author Detroit

Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Aug 21, 2012 7:35:43 AM

The only effective method of boycotting is conservation, and even that would only work for a while. If everyone carpooled 1 day a week, gas prices would drop like a rock....for 6 months or so.
Champion Author Winnipeg

Joined:Oct 2002
Message Posted: Aug 19, 2012 12:48:12 AM

"isn't shopping the lowest price a form of boycott?"
Nope, it is merely active consumerism. Shuffling dollars around the block is a feel-good exercise, nothing more.
It isn't a boycott until you buy NO gasoline from anybody. There isn't a single city that has refineries and/or dedicated distribution depots for every single brand of gasoline sole, and chances are excellent anywhere from 1/2 to all of the stations on your driving route get there fuel from the same place, with additives added in the truck to make Chevron, for instance, slightly different from Exxon at the pump.

[Edited by: rumbleseat at 8/19/2012 3:48:39 AM EST]
Champion Author Buffalo

Joined:Nov 2008
Message Posted: Aug 18, 2012 8:56:18 AM

isn't shopping the lowest price a form of boycott?
Champion Author Nevada

Joined:Jun 2012
Message Posted: Aug 16, 2012 2:36:26 AM

Damn, Catfish99 you da' man and you sure did your homework! Well Said...
Champion Author Houston

Joined:Mar 2011
Message Posted: Aug 15, 2012 7:43:21 AM

I am not going to spend time looking for succesful boycotts but will conceed there have been some. The reason that some are succesful while a gas boycott would not be is very fundemental. I would guess that most succesful boycotts occur for goods are services that have numerous other options. In otherwords once upon a time PUSH, Jesse Jacksons political organization tried to boycotte Reebok shoes. The idea was that Nike realizing the very competative nature of atheletic shoes had supported PUSH with donations and ads in their publications and sponsorship of its convention. Reebok on the other hand did not. In what amounted to blackmail by PUSH they begain a boycott of Reebok because according to Jackson since Reebok made huge profits by selling $100 shoes to poor impoverished blacks who saw the shoes as "inspirational" then they should give back to that community and the best way to do that was to donate to PUSH. Reebok reacted to this simply because there was and is huge competition in the market. There are numerous shoe companies coming out with new designs all the time and a boycott in that market could literally bankrupt a company.

Now try that boycott in the gas market. Really gas is gas is gas. There is little if any product differentiation in the market. Most of the people on this site come here to find the cheapest in their market every day. Most could care less who is selling it as long as it is cheap. You need gas for your car to get to work, you don't need $200 shoes to go to work.

Really the primary reason a boycott works some of the time and yet would never work for gas is because you have a choice about which shoes to buy, or what computer to buy, or what brand of soda to buy, but when it comes to gas you have very little true choice. Demand has to be elastic to boycott a product and when it comes to gas it is about the most inelastic product out there.

* Price elasticity relates to how demand for a product shifts with price. Elastic products are ones that if the price goes up demand for it falls at the same or greater rate. Inelastic goods are ones where there is not a significant change in demand as the produt price increases. Basic economic theroy would suggest the market cannot mount a succesful boycott against an inelastic product.

[Edited by: brerrabbitTX at 8/15/2012 10:46:57 AM EST]
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Aug 15, 2012 3:41:03 AM

Yes, competing businesses will drive down the price to consumers. That's why gas stations make almost nothing selling you gas. That 20-oz soda puts more in the profit ledger than your fill-up.
Champion Author Rockford

Joined:Oct 2011
Message Posted: Jul 3, 2012 8:41:06 AM

Competition is good.
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: May 29, 2012 3:44:40 AM

Bumping this up for Vancouver 12.
Rookie Author St. Louis

Joined:Apr 2012
Message Posted: Apr 18, 2012 10:45:04 PM

Every year, gas prices go up, people grumble about it, people who have nothing to do with gas prices are blamed for them, and new life is breathed into an old chain email. Most people have likely seen an email or post on Facebook, saying people should stage a “gas boycott” and evade pumps for a day to drive down prices. That message continues to circulate, despite the fact that gas boycotts never work. Article source: Gas boycott emails still circulating, still dead wrong

[Edited by: kessia0828 at 4/19/2012 1:54:07 AM EST]
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Apr 18, 2012 3:31:15 AM

Bumped for TJC.
Rookie Author Ontario

Joined:Apr 2012
Message Posted: Apr 10, 2012 6:14:31 AM

with a few aftermarket add on's to most vehicles, it will improve your
gas mileage.
which is one way to get more for less.
Rookie Author Indiana

Joined:Sep 2011
Message Posted: Mar 23, 2012 6:29:54 PM

Mr. Catfish,

Well said! Instead of boycotting the final product (which absolutely won't work), we should boycott the entities that force the prices to be high, OPEC. Of course, our fearless leader (Uncle Obama)finds non-OPEC oil providers undesirable. So, the real boycott necessary is of Obama and his no-North-American-oil policies. And don't get me started on our $16,000,000,000,000 debt.
Champion Author Atlanta

Joined:Jun 2007
Message Posted: Mar 22, 2012 8:26:26 AM

Rarely do they work.
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Mar 21, 2012 3:27:43 AM

For the new members coming to this forum to suggest boycotting on Tuesdays, or boycotting Shell, or boycotting April 1st, or just paying with pennies: please read this first. I know it looks long, but it will only take 2-3 minutes. You might see that your suggestions, (which have been made hundreds of times on this forum)are neither novel or effective.
Rookie Author Kansas City

Joined:Feb 2012
Message Posted: Feb 22, 2012 8:23:08 PM

Not until there's another source.
Sophomore Author St. Louis

Joined:Feb 2012
Message Posted: Feb 17, 2012 5:38:24 AM

Never gonna happen.
Rookie Author Minnesota

Joined:Sep 2008
Message Posted: Feb 13, 2012 8:14:52 AM


Actually, we can reduce oil usage. Boycotts won't work because the ones hurt most would be the station owners themselves, not the parent company (because Conoco could be selling gasoline refined by a BP refinery with some of Conoco's additives mixed into the tanker truck.)

But reducing oil usage involves taking less trips, looking for more fuel-efficient vehicles when buying our next car, doing preventative maintenance, and carpooling (or taking transit if that's an option for you.)
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Jan 19, 2012 3:28:22 AM

Bumping this up for the commenters in the "yes or no" thread.
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Nov 18, 2011 3:18:59 AM

With spot market oil prices up quite a bit, we should see some increases at the pump. Higher prices usually means new members on the site. So if you are new, please read the first post before starting a new thread about not buying Shell on Thursdays, or any Gas on Dec. 25th, or whatever idea you came up with for a boycott.
Veteran Author Jacksonville

Joined:Jun 2011
Message Posted: Oct 22, 2011 7:41:19 AM

Boycotting for gas will not work, even for 1 day...
Champion Author Wilmington

Joined:Sep 2005
Message Posted: Oct 21, 2011 3:22:39 AM

Bumping this up for the new members. Hopefully some of them will give it a read before jumping in with their new idea that we can drop gas to $1 a gallon by not filling up on Tuesdays.
Champion Author Winnipeg

Joined:Oct 2002
Message Posted: Aug 30, 2011 5:15:20 PM

"Now, if we all agreed to stop driving for 4 or 5 days, and there were a lot of us."

Right. So you don't drive for a few days, and walk to the store to get bread and milk for the kids. OOPS!, no milk, no bread, the delivery drivers didn't drive to work! You kid gets a fever, you walk to the drugstore, OOPS! it isn't open, nobody drove to work. Your heating/a/c system goes down, you call the service centre, OOPS, nobody there, they didn't drive to work. Somebody torches your garage, you call the fire department, OOPS, nobody there, they didn't drive to work.
You call your boss, OOPS! he isn't your boss anymore, you are fired for not coming to work!
Sophomore Author Cincinnati

Joined:Jul 2011
Message Posted: Aug 30, 2011 3:57:26 AM

Completely agree. Boycotting buying gas for 1 day isn't going to change demand one bit. Now, if we all agreed to stop driving for 4 or 5 days, and there were a lot of us. That might have some impact.
Rookie Author Greensboro

Joined:Jul 2011
Message Posted: Aug 29, 2011 10:36:17 PM

boycott will work if people take conscience of the damage that carbon monoxide is doing to nature
Champion Author Winnipeg

Joined:Oct 2002
Message Posted: Aug 29, 2011 3:45:22 PM

Domer, if you can't be bothered reading the analysis on Snopes, then there is no point discussing this after this post. Your mind is closed to logic and reason.
You refuse to see how easy it REALLY is to conserve by everybody picking only 1 strategy and sticking to it, such as, slowing down 5 km/hr on the highway if you tend to drive over the limit, accelerating slowly and evenly, and slowing before red lights, not going full tilt boogie then hitting the brakes, by doing shopping on the way home from work instead of making it a separate trip, by keeping tires properly inflated, etc. Nobody ever tells you how to conserve? I just did, and none of that is new, I got some of those from my Dad and was implementing some when people were upset at gasoline hitting 35 cents per Canadian gallon.
Saving a few drops of fuel is easy, and those drops add up to hundreds of tankerloads of oil, but far too many just can't be bothered.
Boycotting a brand but not cutting consumption eventually puts prices up, not down, that is simple economics.
Champion Author Maryland

Joined:Aug 2004
Message Posted: Aug 29, 2011 3:06:59 PM

"People the reason I ask you to Google or use what ever search engine you choose is I don't have the time nor do I want to type in duplicate what your search engines will open your eyes to the fact BOYCOTTS WORK!"

I've spent the time you say you don't have to prove your point of view. And I've spent a lot of time over the years I've been hearing that I should boycott this brand or that brand; or that I shouldn't buy gas on this day or that day in order that the gas stations will have so much gas on hand they'll have to sell for a dollar or more below their cost, literally having to give it away. About the only thing I haven't heard is that they'll go back to giving glasses or plates with each fill-up, or that they'll give me free maps and top off my fluids.

I've done what you said long before you said you don't have time to duplicate what I'm supposed to be able to find. I'm sorry; I can't find it. I can't find anywhere, except by a few anonymous posters to various websites, that I can get any point across to the international oil community, and to investors in the oil industry (pension planners, stock market investors, teachers/police/fire union investors, etc.) if I keep using the same amount of fuel as always, don't make any sacrifice, don't make any effort to change my driving and fuel use habits. No one here has told us how, if you give your driving age kid a car to drive around in how gas prices will be reduced. No one here has told us how gas prices will go down by simply not buying from one gas station brand or another, even if everyone stopped buying from that brand.

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to "type in duplicate" what I can't find, despite your telling me I should be able to find it.
Champion Author Alabama

Joined:Mar 2011
Message Posted: Aug 29, 2011 2:53:38 PM

Cry me a river Domer. Family has been doing this for almost 100 years. Seen it, heard it, watched it and read it. You have nothing to add to a conversation on the subject, mainly because you have no idea what you are talking about and people know it.
You have a right to post it and we have the right to make fun of you.
Most of us (IMO) come here for our daily laugh and you have been great.
Rookie Author Ottawa

Joined:Aug 2011
Message Posted: Aug 29, 2011 5:06:27 AM

rgpiccone there has never been a sustained boycott on a specific oil company that is why your oil industry remains unethical in all aspects. The economy CANNOT reduce usage of this product if you simply understand that everything touches oil and hopefully for the last time in these forms I may point out that a boycott has nothing to do with less product usage.
People the reason I ask you to Google or use what ever search engine you choose is I don't have the time nor do I want to type in duplicate what your search engines will open your eyes to the fact BOYCOTTS WORK! I have listed a few of the many in these forms. Would you say your boycott of Cuba has had an effect on Cuba? THEY WORK!!!!
1oilman if your not making enough profit in the oil business then WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN IT? Your true colors show in your post as you point out that you are willing to gouge in anger and it is what your whole industry is about and is why WE NEED to boycott specific companies and in the long run even you may benefit. You crying the blues about profit margins is old news and doesn't work anymore. What did your industry use this weekend to gouge us? Oh ya a hurricane and as you posted that makes you feel good! Wow that's scary! And if you read my posts 1oilman I am not bitching and complaining but I am trying to do something about your industry and it's unethical behavior. Seems to me you know a sustained boycott WILL have an effect don't you?
I sense this post topic is full of the oil industry and the fear of a sustained company by company boycott until we get what is needed in this industry (ETHICS) scares the @#^* out of ya as it should!
JUST DO IT!!!!!!
Champion Author Philadelphia

Joined:Jun 2011
Message Posted: Aug 28, 2011 4:40:37 PM

If all of these gas-outs and calls for boycotts of individual oil companies actually accomplished anything, why do we still see $3.50 gas?

They don't work, and they can't work! The price of oil and gasoline has historically volatile (since 1973-74 Arab oil embargo anyway). OPEC and oil producing countries want to keep the price high, but supply and demand eventually catches up with them. The price always comes back down when demand for oil declines, resulting in a glut of oil. The moral: if you want to make an attempt to bring prices down, reduce usage!
Champion Author Chicago

Joined:Feb 2011
Message Posted: Aug 28, 2011 12:30:29 PM

I agree with rumbleseat. If the examples of successful gas boycotts are so plentiful Domer should have no problem providing specific examples. There are none so instead we get more cap lock messages.
Champion Author Winnipeg

Joined:Oct 2002
Message Posted: Aug 26, 2011 7:15:35 PM

Tell you what Domer, YOU go on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or better yet, a Meta search like Mamma or DogPile, and find us all the examples of the gasoline boycotts that are actually proven to work.
THEN do a search on any of the above search engines for "snopes gasout" for the simple facts.

Note - gasoline isn't pumped from the ground at whatever cost per barrel into the pumps at your local station for big profits. Your local station, owned by your friends, neighbours, family, and fellow local taxpayers, makes the smallest margin on gasoline of everybody in the chain. Credit card companies, with no investment in the stations or inventory, make big bucks off high prices, and government makes a lot more than the local franchise operator as well.
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