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Shell accused of unethical conduct against Shell retailers in India

By John Donovan

We have received a copy of an email from an irate Shell retailer in India, Sabir Mohammed, accusing Shell management in India of being cheats and liars. He also makes allegations about corruption. He claims many other Shell retailers in India share his concerns. He sent his email to Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Peter Voser and company secretary, Michiel Brandjes. The email and associated correspondence can be viewed here.

Seems Shell may be up to it old tricks again, reminiscent in some regards to dire concerns expressed in the past by Shell retailers in the UK and the USA. Including the alleged failure of Shell senior management to honour pledges to uphold Shell’s statement of general business principles promising honesty, integrity, transparency and respect for people, in all of Shell’s dealings. In our experience, all a complete sham.


Several hundred Shell retailers participated in our “business ethic” surveys about Shell. We published the results in successive monthly whole page notices in the UK gasoline retailing trade press. All responses were opened under the supervision of an independent solicitor who provided an Affidavit verifying the results, which were devastatingly bad for Shell e.g.

89% of respondents said that they would not recommend any petrol retailer considering a brand change to switch to Shell.

75% of the Shell stations that participated were of the opinion that Shell management was unethical, incompetent, and greedy.

Shell never did take up our challenge to commission and publish the results of independent research, using precisely the same questions and offering respondents GUARANTEED anonymity.

We also received many letters from Shell stations complaining bitterly about the business practices of Shell.

Here is a selection of quotes from some of the letters: –

“Extremely bad company”

“I believe the current regime is totally immoral

“We have serious concerns about Shell’s ethical conduct”.

“The fickle nature and lack of honour within our negotiations were a shock to ourselves coming from a large company…  We would hope this letter may help you and serve as a warning to others contemplating any form of activity with this company”.

“You are not alone in being steamrollered by this company”.

“Letter dated 13 January 1999 from Patrick Bradshaw to his local MP: “Management that can falsify the truth without a moments hesitation”: Shell’s ruthlessness and cheating practices”

“THE UNETHICAL CLEANSING OF SHELL UK AGENT OPERATORS” (Letter received from Shell Station operator Sheila Gee, published and distributed as a leaflet in 1999)

Affidavit supplied by an independent solicitor (Gross & Co) verifying the survey results. Includes self-explanatory exhibit and written communications received from Shell dealers: April 1995

The results of one survey are shown above right.


In the USA, “a federal jury awarded more than $3 million to eight Massachusetts gas station operators after finding Shell Oil Co. used unfair tactics that were effectively intended to drive them out of business.The jury voted yes to the question of whether Shell ”in bad faith” set wholesale gasoline prices ”that were not commercially reasonable,” court documents said.”: “We’ve been vindicated,” said Mike Corbett, owner of City Square Shell in Charlestown, a member of a group of area dealers who’ve been battling Shell for more than four years over control of their stations. “This is big for us. They beat us up for so many years. It was terrible what they did,” he said. (Extracts from a Boston Globe article published in December 2004)

After a three-week trial, the jury found that Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies violated state and federal regulations by raising the price of wholesale gasoline to the dealers and ending a long-standing rent subsidy program. The franchisees sued four years ago, claiming Shell was attempting to drive them out of business so it could operate the stations itself.”; “The jury’s $3.3 million award is likely to grow by millions when interest and attorneys fees are factored in, said the franchisees’ lawyer, Gary Greenburg, who called the verdict a “total victory” for his clients.”(Extract from article published December 2004)

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE US litigation: Shell tried to drive Shell gas station operators out of business and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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