Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2001

Repentant store deserves second chance

September 27, 2001

We agree with Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall and others who maintain there was no reason for gas stations to raise prices in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But, while we won't presume to tell readers where they should do business, we would suggest De Soto's Meiners' Market and Conoco deserve a second chance.

We do so for a number of reasons, beginning with the forthright way the store has dealt with what it admits was a mistake. Immediately after being warned by Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, the store issued a public apology and offered refunds.

When the press called, there was no deferring to corporate spokesmen who issued wishy-washy statements that avoided meaning and responsibility. Take it from us, not all companies addressed the issue so squarely.

Perhaps we're naive in our judgment of human nature, but we believe the store's explanation that it didn't try to take advantage of a national tragedy to line its pocket. The store's manager said the bad decision ? arrived at during the chaos of a buying frenzy ? was made out of concern the pumps would run dry and there would be nothing to entice customers into the store for the sales that keep it in business.

In making that judgment call, the manager had legitimate concerns about when the store would get its next shipment of gasoline. A few suppliers did close terminals and others restricted access the afternoon of the terrorist attacks.

True the store's manager didn't exercise good judgment. But the same could be said of those who filled all their vehicles and every red container they owned on the unfounded rumor that gas prices would skyrocket.

It is true that other businesses, including De Soto's J-Mart, faced these same pressures and didn't resort to an unwarranted price increase. But we are inclined to forgive a lapse of judgment made on a day when America's sense of security was severely shaken.

The store's management has stated it needs and wants to regain the community's trust. There will be further opportunities for the store to demonstrate it is a good corporate citizen of De Soto. The community will be watching.

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