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Station owner gives ’em Shell

Boston Herald: Station owner gives ’em Shell

“Independent lease operators have battled Shell for years, arguing the company is trying to take over their franchises. Last year, a federal jury in Boston ruled in favor of eight independent dealers who claimed Shell was trying to put small-time operators out of business.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

By Jay Fitzgerald

Paul Micalizzi says Shell Oil tried to put the squeeze on its independent station owners again.

Micalizzi, owner of Battle Green Shell in Lexington, said yesterday that Shell charged so-called “lease operators” of Shell stations higher wholesale gas prices than “directly controlled” stations paid during the recent gas-price run-up.

“Shell has been screwing us for years,” said Micalizzi, who has battled the oil giant over wholesale prices in the past.

Micalizzi said lease operators and Shell’s direct-service operators are now paying about the same for wholesale gas. But the station owner said he was paying anywhere from 5 to 10 cents a gallon more for fuel than direct-service operators paid during the gas-pump craze’s height.

Shell spokesman Stan Mays said he wasn’t aware of any specific charges, and couldn’t give details about pricing issues. But Mays downplayed Micalizzi’s accusations, saying that Shell treats all clients and customers fairly.

“We recognize the contributions that each of our operators – whether independent dealer, wholesaler or open dealer – brings to the Shell brand and our promise to customers,” the spokesman said.

He added: “It remains in our best interest to ensure our business practices remain fair and equitable across every class of trade.”

Independent lease operators have battled Shell for years, arguing the company is trying to take over their franchises. Last year, a federal jury in Boston ruled in favor of eight independent dealers who claimed Shell was trying to put small-time operators out of business.

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