Paying the Price

| November 7, 2000

Paying the Price, Bob Burtman, Houston Press
'I had Exxon blood,' Gus Taxiarchou, a former independent Exxon gas station operator, says. 'I loved Exxon.' Since January of 1997, however, Taxiarchou has been singing a different song. That month, Exxon opened a new company-run station just one mile away from his own, complete with a convenience store, fast food outlet and free car wash with fill-up. With mounting debt and expenses, Taxiarchou couldn't compete with the corporate operation next door, and succumbed when they offered to buy him out. And Taxiarchou is not alone: the neighborhood service station, once a thriving community institution, is dying -- at the hands of big oil companies that dominate the industry. In a two-part article, Bob Burton of the Houston Press presents the results of a five month investigation of these companies and their shady tactics. 'A review of thousands of pages of internal company documents, court records, and legislative testimony, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former company employees lead to an inescapable conclusion,' he writes: 'Major oil companies have in fact been deliberately and systematically driving dealers out of business.'
--Amanda Luker
Part I
Part II

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