Paying the Price

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
–Amanda Luker

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