‘BP and P&O face response from customers’

As crazy as it sounds, I sometimes think that some greedy companies in and around the car world are hell-bent on committing corporate suicide.

I’m talking about a handful of companies that spend the first year (sometimes decades) and try to attract millions (sometimes billions) of customers. Then – after they get access to our customs, cash and cars – they often treat us with disrespect that we don’t really deserve.

After all, it is complacency and laziness on their part. Worst of all, it’s arrogance and complete contempt. Either way, some firms out there seem to be dangerously close to pressing their own self-destruct buttons because they tear up or severely disconnect their clients that they fought so hard to win in the first place.

I know this because I feel like one of the growing army of annoying consumers sadly frustrated by some of the companies that have either tried to charge us extra, provide bad service or offered any services.

Lots. Such companies give me no choice but to take my spending power elsewhere. Not that I’m alone. I have seen and heard evidence from other annoyed motorists that they are doing the same thing.

A good example of what I’m talking about is a BP forecourt where I would buy reasonably priced fuel on a coastal A2 or Dover ferry on my way to cricket in Canterbury. Then, in mid-March, the garage quietly introduced pump prices up to 222.9pa liters / £ 10.13 per gallon. Guess what? Paying customers abandon the dilapidated place.

Even when it realized the flaws in its path and reduced prices a bit at the end of the month (but not enough), we – the paying punters – stayed away. The last time I and my camera checked, on a busy working day afternoon when there were lots of vehicles around, there was not a driver in the forecourt to buy petrol or diesel.

We all moved our business elsewhere. This should be the case at pumps, or at EV chargepoints, in car parks, at car sales and service centers, or when car insurance companies face price cuts. If firms fail to understand the concept of fair price and customer loyalty, you know what you need to do: give them a wide berth, spend your money with competing companies to look after you and appreciate your custom.

Only time will tell whether consumers will forgive BP and its retail network for the greedy and embarrassing extra prices at some petrol and diesel pumps in recent weeks. Forgive and forget? I do not.

But the customer response that BP faces is nothing short of a disaster for the P&O ferry itself. CEO Pete Heblethwaite admits his firm broke the law during a symbolic practice that resulted in the dumping of hundreds of fair, fair-paid sailors and an instant check-hand effort to replace them with shockingly low-paid foreign workers. The whole episode has been a bloody insult.

I have been a loyal P&O customer for decades. But me and my car will only ride on the company’s cross-channel ferry again if those ‘unnecessary’ but innocent seafarers are reinstated and carry the unusual ‘pirate pit’ board.

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