Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shell Raises Gas Prices By 10 Cents

By The Yapper
Editor In Chief

In an effort to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from a failed marketing campaign, Shell Marianas raised its per gallon prices of regular, premium and diesel fuel for the second time in as many weeks.

Shell Marianas customers are now shelling out $0.25 more per gallon than they were two weeks ago, and more than half-a-dollar more than they were paying at the start of 2009. Unfortunately for the CNMI customers, that may be just the tip of the iceberg for Shell.

Earlier this year, Shell's marketing department created a campaign that gave its customers an opportunity to purchase current and classic cars from famed Italian automaker Ferrari for just a few dollars.

When customers raced into Shell and filled their tanks with the expectation of purchasing a new Ferrari for $2.99, they were disappointed to learn that Shell Marianas was only offering plastic miniature versions of the high-performance machines .

That didn't sit well with local customers, and the marketing snafu spurned the creation of the Marianas Alliance of Disenfranchised Automobile Suppliers and Fuel Users of the Commonwealth (MADASFUC).

In March, MADASFUC retained the services of attorney turned Japanese rockstar, Bruce Berline, who lodged an official complaint against Shell Marianas in U.S. District Court. In his complaint, Berline charged that Shell wilfully and intentionaly misled the people of the CNMI into thinking that they would receive a brand new Ferrari in exchange for $2.99 and a full tank of gas.

Further, Berline said that the only form of recourse for his clients is for Shell Marianas to offer bonafide Ferraris to all who tried to avail of the offer and who were subsequently denied at retailers across Saipan.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge, Alex R. Munson ruled in favor of MADASFUC and Shell Marianas was ordered to supply the complaintants with their choice of Ferraris immediately and not later than the end of May 2009.

The ruling sent Shell Marianas on a worldwide search for 237 Ferraris that was finally completed on May 29th when Rep. Stanley Torres (R-Saipan) received his 1984 288 GTO at his Garapan office, located inside Godfather's Bar.

In an interview at the company's office in Puerto Rico, Shell Area Manager Jeff Boyer expressed his frustration with the failed promotion and said that he hopes the company can rebound from the Ferrari debacle.

"We envisioned a campaign that would give kids some great toys. Who the hell would seriously think that we were giving away actual cars for two bucks and a tank of gas? I mean, you'd have to be a fucking idiot," he said.

Boyer said that the increase in fuel prices was the only possible move for the Shell if the company hopes to survive Ferrari-gate and the current economic crisis.

"Times are tough for everyone, and especially so in the oil industry. Gas money is always the first thing that goes out the door when people and companies have less disposable income. In light of our current hardships and that damn car giveaway, we've had to reassess profit margins and cost structures to allow for our survival."

Compounding the economic difficulties for at least one of Shell's retailers was a theft perpeterated by another one of Delta Management's account executives. Delta Management operates three Shell gas stations on Saipan and offers a wide range of services to its customers.

One service that company president Jim Arenovski didn't anticipate was an unauthorized vacation program that provided unscheduled time off and $7,000 for station outlet auditor Virginia C. Hernandez.

Hernandez was caught attempting to flee the CNMI with $7,000 in cash en route to her native Philippines after siphoning the money from Delta Management. While in custody, Hernandez said that there was a simple misunderstanding and that she thought her boss was fully supportive of her impromptu vacation plans.

When asked about Hernandez's allegation that he was fully aware of her heist, Arenovski said, "I don't know, I guess she thinks that I'm giving things away like Santa Claus just because I look like the jolly old elf."

In a related story, Mobil Oil also increased its fuel prices over the past two weeks by exactly the same amount. When asked why regional fuel supplier raised its rates, company officials released the following statement:

"While it's true that we didn't offer free cars to our drivers, we here at Mobil decided to raise our prices for the betterment of our community. And by 'our community' we mean the people in our community who stand to gain the most from this move among the people who work in our office."