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Royal Dutch Shell at War with a Family

John Donovan in 1999

Extracts from the ebook “John Donovan, Shell’s Nightmare” (now available on Amazon websites globally)

Extracts from pages 150, 151 & 152

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF OPERATING UNDER THE ROYALDUTCHSHELLPLC.COM DOMAIN NAME

You would have thought that any visitor to the website would quickly realize that the site was not operated by Shell. There has always been a disclaimer pointing this out on every webpage. It should also be obvious from other content on the home page.

Nonetheless, it seems that some people still form the impression that it is the official Shell website. We receive all manner of email meant for Shell. It includes hundreds of job applications, business proposals, Shell pension enquiries, shareholder enquiries, complaints, invitations to speak at conferences, and correspondence from the Dutch Defence Ministry and the UK National Maritime Museum.

The unforeseen amusing consequences of the domain name victory was reported in September 2007: “Shell’s Colchester headache”:

PROSPECT MAGAZINE WEBSITE ARTICLE: 12 Sept 2007

Extract

The Donovans say they have received CVs, business proposals, and even a terrorist threat sent to them: all were intended for Shell. (They kindly forwarded them on.) And the site has begun to break news regularly. Earlier this month, Reuters scooped that another senior Shell executive, this one a manager at the troubled Kashagan project in Kazakhstan, had quit.

The Donovans, and through them Reuters, knew about the story before Shell’s press office in London. As journalists and disgruntled employees have realised, if you want to know what’s up at one of the worlds biggest companies or just want a good moan about the latest oil spill start with www.royaldutchshellplc.com.

The Times Diary: 22 September 2007:

Since the 1990s, Royal Dutch Shell has been at war with a family who registered a website, royaldutchshellplc.com. The Donovan family, led by 90-year-old Burma veteran Alfred, perhaps quixotically want Shell to change its management. Shell has failed to shut down the site, which has attracted job applications and, allegedly, even a terrorist threat, all of which are dutifully passed on to the company. Space does not allow exposition of all the correspondence between the two sides, but there are signs that Shell is developing a sense of humour. A recent letter from general counsel there suggests that “a truly alternative solution for all those people inadvertently contacting you is for you to choose a website and e-mail address without the word ‘shell’ in it”.

I have written permission from Michiel Brandjes, the Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc to check the mail meant for Shell, removing junk mail and passing on anything I judge that they should see. It is, of course, a huge humiliation for Shell, but an embarrassment the company is apparently prepared to endure.

Shell cannot deny knowledge of this improbable situation.

Here is the email correspondence to prove it.  

The domain name battle has also been referred to in a number of books including “Corporate Reputation” authored by Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross.

Extracts from chapter entitled “Reputation Loss” pages 19 & 20:

One such empowered activist is arch Shell critic Alfred Donovan. No one was more surprised than Royal Dutch Shell PLC to learn that this 88-year-old British army veteran had purchased the Internet domain name www.royaldutchshellplc.com. The gadfly Donovan was a well-known, though underestimated, critic of the company. By acquiring the domain name, Donovan obtained the perfect platform to voice his criticisms of the oil giant. Who would have thought a decade ago that such an unlikely individual could stand up to a corporate powerhouse, waging a war of words against one of the world’s largest companies?

Demise of “Tell Shell”

For some years, Shell operated a “Tell Shell” Internet forum for open and lively discussion involving Shell employees, Shell shareholders and other parties interested in Shell.

When the “Tell Shell” postings became too lively and too critical of Shell, they were initially openly censored then secretly censored, with postings vanishing without trace or explanation.

When this devious action was publicly exposed, Shell first suspended, then closed down “Tell Shell”.

TellShell.org was one of the domain names Shell unsuccessfully attempted to seize in the WIPO proceedings.

To Shell’s consternation, their “Tell Shell” forum has been replaced by my unofficial Shell website, which has become the world’s leading online source of information and discussion about the oil giant.

It also has a Shell Blog were people can air views about Shell, whether positive or negative.

Extracts end

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnews.net and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan

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