CHAPTER 18 - BACK TO CAMPAIGNING AGAINST SHELL
As a response to Shell’s underhand tactics in respect of the Smart litigation we founded the “Shell Shareholders Organisation”. We decided to set up two Internet websites – one for Don Marketing and the other for the Shell Shareholders Organisation.
However, we needed help from a computer expert. John therefore put an advert in a local paper for a “computer whiz kid” on the basis that it would be cheaper to pay for a young person. A 17 year-old eccentric young man by the name of Nick Gill replied and turned out to be the genuine article. Why the eccentric tag you may ask? He does not drink tea or coffee; he does not wear a watch; he does not swear; he does not like going to bed at night, preferring to do so at daybreak when everyone else is getting up; when it is warm, he sleeps with his feet hanging out of the window; he is a hypochondriac; he says crazy things, for example, that he would like to be hit by lightening so that he knows what it feels like. He is also a car killer (if you do not believe me lend him your car for the day). He basks in the knowledge that a few short-sighted people have told him that he looks like Tom Cruise. Despite all of his eccentricities, Nick quickly helped us to set up the desired colourful and attractive websites. With the help of his expertise we were even able to play tapes on one website of the recorded telephone conversations with Andrew Lazenby. I may do the same on this site.
To publicise the websites and put further pressure on Shell we persuaded relatives and friends to hand out leaflets at Shell HQ buildings in London and The Hague. We had a team outside Shell-Mex House most weekdays for several months. We also advertised the websites in the Sunday Times, The Mail On Sunday and TIME magazine.
Our websites drove Shell mad - we could tell from the website logs that Shell employees were constantly visiting the sites along with most major oil companies, who it seems, were intrigued by Shell's plight.
We also carried out new surveys about Shell’s business practices and placed large adverts in trade magazines publishing the dire results for Shell as again verified by an independent solicitor. We also placed large reverse black notices in trade magazines warning existing and potential partners in the SMART scheme that we reserved the right to take legal action against them. The websites were advertised on all of these adverts.
One leaflet we published and had distributed at the Shell Centre in London produced an immediate response. It stated as follows: -
AN OPEN LETTER TO DR FAY, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SHELL UK LIMITED
As you know, I attended the Shell Transport AGM in May, just four months ago. I heard at first hand the up-beat speech given by Mr Moody-Stuart about Shell’s future prospects. There was not the slightest hint of any impending financial debacle. In view of recent events, his address can be compared with the “welcome aboard” speech given by the Captain of the Titanic. The difference is that this time, the Captain and first officers will not go down with the ship. Unfortunately, hundreds of Shell UK staff will be the ones thrown overboard. Under the circumstances, many Shell employees may share my view that instead of the CMD concentrating on learning to dance the “Macarena” at a recent Shell jamboree, they should have been looking out for the financial storms ahead.
I have also suffered from Shell’s ruthless business ethics. You have recently brought a £100,000 claim against me despite the fact that I am an 81-year-old war pensioner. An action that one solicitor has correctly described as petty and vindictive. You did this because my son launched a multimillion pounds legal action against Shell in respect of the SMART scheme - the fourth promotional idea that Shell has stolen from the company that he and I founded (Don Marketing). You have already settled three out of the four claims, at a cost to Shell shareholders of several hundred thousand pounds. As you know, all four claims involve the same unscrupulous Shell manager, Mr Andrew Lazenby. Anyone who doubts this assertion has only to listen to Mr Lazenby on DM’s website.
You have known all about these matters for years. You even sent an unsolicited letter of apology to my son in October 1996, after settling claims two and three. You admitted that Shell UK had failed to meet “the high standards that we set ourselves” i.e. the Statement of General Business Principles. You went on to say: “On reflection it seems that, had this aspect been more focused on than the strict legal issues, we might have been able to resolve our differences more quickly”. But when my son subsequently brought the SMART multipartner claim to your attention after it had been launched in Scotland, Shell UK reverted back to its former disreputable mode of conduct. Thus your apology letter has been exposed as a cynical ploy – another deception.
Does it not worry you that 55% of the respondents in DM’s survey of over 1,500 Shell Stations (the results are published in “Marketing Week”) say that Shell UK operates in an unethical manner. Half of the respondents believe that Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles is a sham. It is no use making solemn pledges about honesty, openness and integrity, when Shell management is not prepared to honour them.
Alfred Donovan. Retired Director of Don Marketing. (Cell-phone No: 0411 526 769).
The reverse side of the leaflet contained a picture of Shell-Mex House flying a Skull & Crossbones flag plus the following text: -
I caution all businesses contemplating trading with Shell UK Ltd to be on their guard. In my experience, they are masters of double talk and double-dealing. We have found it almost impossible to extract the truth from this company.
Bearing in mind that Shell has pirated a series of ideas that Don Marketing disclosed to them in confidence, I contend that they should fly a “skull and crossbones” flag over Shell-Mex House as fair warning to all who enter.
Let me make it plain that there is irrefutable documentary evidence to support DM’s allegations, including the fact that Shell deliberately obstructed an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority. Some of the allegations have been published for several months on a unique and highly informative website (www.don-marketing.com). The fact that Shell has not taken action to prevent publication or to bring libel proceedings speaks volumes. They know that DM can substantiate all of its charges.
A free booklet setting out the scandalous conduct that Don Marketing Directors have suffered at the hands of Shell UK is available on request. It reveals that DM asked Mr David Varney, then Managing Director of Shell UK, to investigate the initial dispute. His response letter contained a pack of lies.
Even though Shell is a member of CEDR – the Centre for Dispute Resolution, it has ignored every mediation proposal that Don Marketing has put forward in respect of the SMART claim. Only one conclusion can be drawn. Shell intends to try to exhaust the funds of a financially weaker opponent in the hope that the case never comes before the courts.
Who could ever guess that Shell, with its pious claims of high moral principles, would stoop so low that it would be associated with a “cloak and dagger” operation against a small company. Only when put into a corner by DM’s lawyers, did Shell UK come clean on the matter.
I will continue to speak out until Shell silences me. The Japanese tried to do that in Burma over 50 years ago, fortunately without any success.
ALFRED DONOVAN – A FOUNDER OF DON MARKETING (Tel: 0411 526 769)
Shell reacted by putting up the following posters at the Shell Centre: -
LEAFLETS BEING HANDED TO STAFF OUTSIDE SHELL CENTRE
YOU MAY BE HANDED A LEAFLET OUTSIDE SHELL CENTRE BY MR ALFRED DONOVAN, FORMALLY OF A COMPANY CALLED DON MARKETING UK LIMITED.
YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT JOHN DONOVAN, A DIRECTOR OF DON MARKETING UK LIMITED, MR ALFRED DONOVAN’S SON, HAS ISSUED A WRIT AGAINST SHELL UK CLAIMING THAT HIS COMPANY INVENTED THE SMART LOYALTY CARD PROGRAMME.
MR DONOVAN’S ALLEGATIONS HAVE BEEN VERY CAREFULLY INVESTIGATED BY SHELL UK AND DISCUSSED IN DETAIL WITH MR DONOVAN AND HIS SOLICITORS. THE CLAIM IS BEING VIGOROUSLY DEFENDED.
AS SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW, MR DONOVAN HAS MADE SOME OFFENSIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT SHELL UK COLLEAGUES. WE REJECT SUCH ALLEGATIONS ABSOLUTELY AND ARE WHOLLY CONFIDENT THAT OUR COLLEAGUES HAVE ACTED IN THIS MATTER AT ALL TIMES IN GOOD FAITH AND IN LINE WITH OUR LONG STANDING BUSINESS PRINCIPLES.
23RD SEPTEMBER 1998
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