Over a decade ago, Frank and Colleen Piehl were the first tenants of the Shell owned Sibonelo filling station based at Ngwenya, Swaziland at the Oshoek border post of South Africa (Oshoek) and Swaziland.
The family mortgaged their home and invested their life savings into what was becoming a thriving business, despite unusual onerous terms attached to the lease arising from an interest held by a consortium of landowners.
In 2001, their only son, Jochen, was killed in a road accident at the age of 13.
This tragedy naturally had an devastating impact on the family, including a then 9 year old daughter, which has resulted in long term serious health issues for the entire family.
The family alleges that Shell took advantage of that time of extreme sorrow and distress to “steal” the leased premises from them without any payment of compensation for what had been a well regarded business in which they had invested money, time, energy and immense enthusiasm.
Against their wishes, Shell sent another franchise owner to stand in for them supposedly on a temporary basis, then refused to allow them to return.
Shell’s alleged treachery ruined the family financially making the situation even more distressing at the worst possible time.
Colleen says: “We were so lost and weak and broken with our son’s death that we could not even put up a ‘fight’ at the time.”
Her damming assessment of the oil giant: “Shell have no morals or scruples and don’t care how and who they destroy.”
I have copies of correspondence between Amanda Lopez of Shell South Africa and Colleen Piehl in 2012.
Basically Shell fobbed off the complaint lodged by the Piehl family, not because it was without merit, but on the legal grounds that in the meantime Shell had sold its Swaziland business to Galp Energia and that “the sale included the transfer of all assets, liabilities and obligations.”
Colleen then put some highly relevant questions to Amanda Lopez:
“Does Shell have any shares with Galp or the other way around?”
“Do Shell hold a percentage of shares with Galp Energia?
“Are their any members on the Board of Directors who are also Shell Directors?”
Amanda Lopez replied that she was unable to answer the questions.
I have been aware for more than two decades of predatory business practices by Shell against gasoline retailers in the UK and the USA.
Consequently it comes as no surprise that Shell is apparently just as ruthless and unethical elsewhere.
If Shell has escaped any legal liability, as it claims, why has it not dealt sympathetically with the case on moral grounds?
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Colleens blunt assessment, as quoted above, is fully justified and worth stressing as a warning to anyone considering doing business with Shell:
“Shell have no morals or scruples and don’t care how and who they destroy.”
Senior management at Royal Dutch Shell Plc has had advance sight of the above information/allegations.
(ANY COMMENTS BY SHELL WILL APPEAR HERE ON AN UNEDITED BASIS)
MAIN ARTICLE ENDS
The above article was sent to senior people at Shell on 7 November as per the covering email published below.
Shell did not have the grace to even acknowledge receipt, let alone provide comment for publication on an unedited basis.
Shell has once again displayed a total lack of respect and compassion.
EMAIL FROM JOHN DONOVAN TO MICHIEL BRANDJES, COMPANY SECRETARY AND GENERAL COUNSEL CORPORATE, ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLCFrom: John Donovan <firstname.lastname@example.org>Subject: How Shell exploited the tragedy that befell a filling station franchiseeDate: 7 November 2013 11:12:29 GMTTo: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.orgCc: amanda.Lopez@shell.com, colleen riehl <email@example.com>Dear Mr. BrandjesI have printed below a self-explanatory article I plan to publish on Monday along with family photographs kindly supplied for the purpose.I have also provided a copy of a self-explanatory email from Colleen Riehl.If you decide to investigate, then please let me know before Monday and I will not publish anything on the subject until the outcome of the investigation is known.I have no wish to publish at all if the matter can be resolved between the parties.I hope senior management will be agreeable to looking into this case on compassionate grounds.Yours SincerelyJohn DonovanDRAFTHow Shell exploited the tragedy that befell a filling station franchisee(ARTICLE CONTENT AS DISPLAYED ABOVE)SELF-EXPLANATORY EMAIL FROM COLLEEN RIEHLFrom: colleen riehl <firstname.lastname@example.org>Subject: Re: How Shell exploited the tragedy that befell a filling station franchiseeDate: 6 November 2013 07:18:16 GMTTo: John Donovan <email@example.com>John,I thank you for taking your time and being so prompt in assisting me with regards to this issue.I am in full agreement with all of the statements that you have made on my behalf. It is precisely what I have been telling you.My son’s name is/was Jochen. I will forward photo’s of him to you during the course of the day. At the very latest, tomorrow. I will include one photo of myself with Jochen and one with my daughters. Any information or accreditation that you require from me, with regards to anything that I have said, I will be willing to supply.My daughters are Michaela Piehl (26) and Danicka Piehl (21) Incase you require that information. they were (9) and (14) at the time of their brother’s death.At last Shell South Africa will be exposed for the ‘methods’ by which they operate. Thank you very much John.Kind Regards,ColleenRelated website: RoyalDutchShellPlc.com