Some stations feel sting of boycott against BP

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- The angry posts are all over the Internet: "BOYCOTT BP!!"

Oil giant British Petroleum's efforts at containing the negative publicity from the undersea gusher beneath the Gulf of Mexico that's causing all their problems are going about as well as the company's attempts to plug the leak.

In other words, not very well at all.

As of Friday afternoon, the Facebook page "Boycott BP" had 552,620 fans. Conversely, the page "Do Not Boycott BP" had just 13 fans.

The fallout from the spill, resulting in national outcry and calls for boycott, was having mixed results at the three Albany BP stations surveyed Friday.

Two of the stations -- both on North Slappey Boulevard -- said their businesses had not been affected. But, Brij Patel, who owns a BP station on Dawson Road, said his business was "off by 10 to 15 percent."

Nainesh Patel, who owns the BP station at 1817 North Slappey, said he was aware of the Internet campaign but that the boycott "has not affected my business at all. This is BP's problem; don't blame the individual BP stations. I am still selling the same amount of gas.

"People are confused; they ask me if BP is going out of business. BP is not going out of business and I am not concerned about a boycott at all."

Jay Campbell, whose family business has been at the same location at 1114 North Slappey for more than 27 years, also said his business has not slackened.

"All of our regular customers are still coming by," Campell said. "We might have lost a little business, but we haven't noticed it. Our customers come here because of us, not because of what's on our sign.

"The truth is all this boycott talk just hurts the little guy; it's not going to hurt BP at all."

While business is humming along on the Slappey Boulevard BPs, that's not the case on Dawson Road.

"It's definitely slowed down for us; it's noticeable. We're down 10 to 15 percent." Brij Patel said. "Most of our regular customers are still with us; it's the one-time buyers of gas that aren't stopping here. I wish people didn't blame us for what is happening in the Gulf, but I understand where they are coming from."

Patel said he is taking a wait-and-see attitude toward BP right now.

"I am willing to give it a month or two to see if they can stop the leak," he said. "But right now, I am looking at all aspects of this. I care about my business, and if I have to I will change brands when my contract (with BP) is up."

But in an ominous sign, in the time it took to write this story, Facebook's "Boycott BP" page picked up 3,527 new fans.