EDITORIAL: It's a buyer's market, so be aware

A disturbing chain e-mail has been circulating over the past week.

Hot on the heels of the high-profile Stop Esso Day II last weekend - in which protestors picketed Esso forecourts in protest over Exxon's alleged role in President Bush's decision to renege on the Kyoto protocol - efforts are being made to mobilise a campaign based not on environmental concerns, but outrage over pricing.

The campaign, which originated in the US, urges customers to boycott Esso - and also BP - by not buying petrol. While chain e-mails are hardly new, the concept of co-ordinated consumer action based entirely on commercial rather than ethical grounds is more unusual.

The e-mail illustrates the power of the internet to mobilise campaigns, and also the rising tide of consumer activism. It also shows the growing realisation on the part of customers that, in the words of the mailing, 'the buyers control the marketplace not the sellers'

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