Protecting Brand Integrity – What Shell Oil Didn’t Do

Have you gone into a Shell branded gas station and found the price on the sign was less than what the pump actually charged you?  It happened to me a couple weeks ago and I was shocked when the pump was 10 cents higher in price than on the street sign.

Well, I was already at the pump and limited on time to get to the office. Thinking that I had a similar bad experience with the same Shell station, it made me think that Shell needed to make sure their station owner was not gouging people, doing a bait and switch routine or being less than professional in their management of the station.

First, I went to the and looked for their contact information. There was a email address, so I sent an email regarding my concern over the big price differential at the station and where it was located.

An automated response was immediate:

Thank you for contacting the Shell Solutions Center.

Your feedback is very important to us.  Shell appreciates your business.  Sincerely, The Shell Solutions Center

Two days later I received a follow up to my original email! They asked for all the information, the date, time and location.  I fired off the information and got the immediate automated response.

The following day, I received a follow up that was an explanation of rising gas prices! Nothing at all related to the bait and switch I felt had happened by the station. And, from Shell Solutions Center, not even a person’s name who sent the email.

Since that made me feel like a school kid being told how gas prices go up, I fired off yet another email that basically said that they obviously weren’t addressing the station providing the wrong pricing on the street and gouging their customers when at the pump.

The response came back “Cash vs. Credit Apology.” What? This time the email was about the difference between Cash vs Credit which was not a part of the discussion at all. In addition, the email goes on to say, “As independent business people, Shell retailers are free to establish their own prices and policies. Shell’s relationship with its retailers extends only to the supply of Shell gasoline to the facilities and the right to display Shell’s trademarks at the facilities to promote the sale of Shell products.”

While I understand that Shell, the branded company, cannot dictate pricing, the key was that now I will not stop at any Shell station for fear that those owners are going to gouge me.  The brand integrity has been compromised for me.

What did I expect? As a customer that took the time to say that a station was not handling their sign and pricing correctly, a nice thank you and we have contacted the owners of that station and told them there was a problem. Maybe a coupon to go visit another Shell station to get me over the concern that the brand is not to be trusted?

What do you think of how your people, whether automated or in a contact center should be counseled to handle brand issues?


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