MANILA, Philippines—Petron Corp. has terminated the contracts of 21 service station dealers for erring practices, such as obtaining their fuel supplies from other sources with questionable quality.
These fuels, according to Petron, are being passed off as Petron products “to the detriment of the consuming public who unwittingly load their vehicles with substandard products.”
“It is our duty to make sure the consuming public only gets Petron’s top-of-the-line fuel and lubricant products whenever they go to a Petron station. We do not tolerate these illegal activities and we will continue to go after unscrupulous dealers within our network to ensure the integrity of the Petron brand,” company vice president for national sales Archie B. Gupalor said in a statement issued Tuesday.
According to Petron, it discovered the illegal activities of these service station dealers after a thorough investigation backed by regular readings of the station’s dispensing pumps, which showed that the quantity of products sold at the stations was greater than the quantity purchased by the dealers from Petron.
Petron’s pumps, which are equipped with monitoring systems to determine the volume dispensed, are regularly checked by Petron representatives as part of the company’s standard operating procedure. Following this discovery, all Petron paraphernalia and equipment have already been pulled out.
To underscore the seriousness of its efforts to go after erring dealers, the company recently filed criminal charges against a dealer in Bogo City, Cebu. The Bogo City Prosecutor’s Office found probable cause on allegations by Petron that the dealer committed criminal acts of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false designation of origin.
“From jurisprudence, unfair competition has been defined as the passing off or attempting to pass off upon the public of the goods or business of the one person as the goods or business of another with the end and probable effect of deceiving the public. The essential elements of unfair competition are: confusing similarity in the general appearance of the goods, and intent to deceive the public and defraud a competitor. All of these elements without a doubt exist in this case,” a resolution penned by Bogo Acting City Prosecutor Ivy A. Tejano stated.
5 years’ imprisonment
If found guilty, the dealer faces imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to P200,000.
Over the past years, the oil industry has been beset with unscrupulous activities including product adulteration and rampant smuggling. Unabated smuggling has caused illegal dumping wherein station dealers are enticed to get cheaper fuels and pass them off as branded products, the oil firm said.
“We wish to reassure the motoring public that we have robust systems and procedures in place to detect and stop these illegal activities,” Gupalor said. “We continue to deploy the latest technologies and competent personnel at the service station level to ensure that consumers are getting what they pay for.”
Petron currently maintains the largest retail network in the oil industry with over 2,000 service stations across the country as of end-2012.