Description: Online chain letter
Circulating since: April 2007
Status: Mostly false / Misleading (see details below)
See also: 2012 version
As posted on Facebook, March 12, 2013:
Don't pump gas on April, 15 2013
KEEP SENDING THIS - Let's all try this, wonderful if it helps.
Il do it! If running low, just get your gas the day before on April 14 or the day after on April 16. Every little bit helps.
In April 1997, there was a "gas out" conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.
On April 15, 2011, all internet users are not to go to a gas station in protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $1.20 a liter/$3.87 in most places.
If all users did not got to the pump on the 15th, it would take $2,292,000,000.00 (that's almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil companies pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on April 15th and let's try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.
Analysis: False and misleading. Here's why:
- The flier above was copied verbatim from a chain email that circulated five years ago, in April 2007. The date is new, but the message is old: If every American who reads the posting refuses to buy gas on the same day, we are told, it will cut into the profits of oil companies and force them to lower gasoline prices. Well, it didn't work in 2007, it didn't work in 2012, and it won't work in 2013 for exactly the same reasons.
- Contrary to what's stated above, there was no nationwide "gas out" in 1997. There was one in 1999, and it did generate media attention, but it didn't cause gas prices to drop 30 cents per gallon overnight in fact, it didn't cause gas prices to drop at all. Despite the popularity of the chain email, the 1999 boycott effort attracted few active participants and was completely ineffectual.
- The figures don't add up. If (unlikely as it is) 100 million U.S. drivers did join forces and refuse en masse to refill their tanks on April 15, the total amount unspent could add up to as much as $3 billion. It doesn't follow that a one-day boycott would decrease the oil companies' revenues by $3 billion, however, given that normal gasoline sales per day, across the entire United States, is less than half that much to begin with.
- The boycott is ill-conceived. Whether the total impact on revenue was a half-billion, 3 billion, or 10 billion dollars, the sales lost due to a one-day consumer boycott wouldn't dent the oil companies' profits at all. Think about it. Every driver who refuses to buy gas on Sunday is still going to have to refill their tank on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, making up for Sunday's lost sales. Industry profits for the month as a whole, if not the week, will end up being normal, or very close to it.
An effectual gas boycott would require participants to actually consume less fuel and to do so in a sustained, organized, disciplined fashion over a defined period of time not just skip a day before filling up as usual.
Sources and further reading:
Do Gas Boycotts Really Work?
Slate.com, 1 May 2006
Would a Gasoline Boycott Lower Prices?
Facebook Group Boycotting Gas on Sunday
Fox 31 News, 28 March 2012
Boycott Gasoline? Why Gas Urban Legends Won't Affect Prices
DailyFinance.com, 11 March 2011
Internet-Fueled Gas Boycott Fizzles Around Bay Area
San Francisco Chronicle, 1 May 1999
Last updated: 03/12/13