It's Gas Boycott Email Season, Again

Howdy folks. It’s that time of year when your friends, or in our case, readers, encourage you to boycott gasoline for 24 hours on a specific day.

For some reason, we’re not sure why, people think this will affect fuel prices. Uh. No. So before you forward that email, take a look at these links from And if you want to save money on gasoline… buy a hybrid. Or a bike. Or take the bus. Or walk. Or take a train. Or skateboard. Or unicycle. Whatever. —MEGHANN MARCO

Pain in the Gas [Snopes]
Gas Out [Snopes]
(Photo: Scott Ingram Photography)


Edit Your Comment

  1. MentalDisconnect says:

    I’m on a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year boycott of gasoline. I don’t have a car. And see? Look at how much that’s affecting gas prices! ..You don’t have to thank me, gays, I do it all for you.

  2. dbeahn says:

    Oh Oh! Let’s boycott new homes, too! That way if no one buys one for a day we can all get really cheap prices and really low mortgage rates, too!

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    They should just call it “Lets-all-buy-our-gas-tomorrow-instead-of-today Day”!

  4. B says:

    I tried to boycott stupid email forwards for a day, but it didn’t work. I still get them all the time from my idiot co-workers.

  5. MentalDisconnect says:

    You’ve got the right idea, dbeahn. I’m going to boycott chocolate milk for one day and bring the chocolate milk empire to its knees. Oh, and can we make the real consumers of gasoline participate in the boycott? You know, the ones that deliver fresh food to your grocery store, deliver your mail and packages, respond to emergencies, take carless people where they need to go… How about they go with gasoline for a while. That would catch everyone’s attention.

  6. justin.ryan says:

    The whole gas boycott thing never made sense to me, either. If one day of no one buying gas would cause a multi billion dollar loss for these companies, why would that lower gas prices? I would think that losing a large amount of money would make them raise it in order to make up for it.

  7. CiQuat says:

    It would be smarter to implement a “Use No Gas” day, otherwise you’re simply delaying a purchase and not truly affecting demand. But this is simply too hard for many to do and many more would be unwilling to “go” without.

  8. AcidReign says:

    …..I did my part two years ago by trading in a 5.0 liter engine for a 1.6. No one’s boycotting, today! Traffic was ridiculous…

  9. quagmire0 says:

    @Mental: you may want to check your type-o ;)

    Good for anyone who can go without a car. Better for people that finally realize that they don’t need an Excursion to tote around their 1.5 children! ;)

  10. mikyrok says:

    I’ve never heard of a “Gas Out” before where you boycott certain oil companies, but I think I am now stupider from reading it. How does one gain the conclusion that effectively reducing the competition in a field will improve prices??? Won’t that always inherently cause prices to raise?

  11. Secularsage says:

    Ok, but listen… if everyone posting in this thread doesn’t buy gas tomorrow, we MIGHT be able to lower prices by a couple of pennies!

    I’m cereal here, guys… completely cereal…

  12. Mills says:

    Hasn’t this been going around every summer for the last 5 years?

    You’d think by now someone would’ve broken the taboo of telling Americans to cut their consumption.

  13. Toof_75_75 says:

    These emails kill me! I’ve always thought they were annoying, but I didn’t realize how regularly they were sent out…I love Snopes record of each year’s email. Anyways, I came up with a great idea…lets all buy gas and then donate it all back to the gas companies. That way, supply will go up, and the prices can come down…Ok, you go first, I’ll be right behind you!

  14. Papercutninja says:

    This isn’t the 1960’s, so walkouts, protests and boycotts will not work. Ever.

  15. MentalDisconnect says:

    @quagmire0: [checks typo] [laughs] My fingers are clearly thinking something different than my brain is. Thus “Mental Disconnect”….

    You guys don’t need to thank me. Nor do the gays. Who knows what the gays would be thanking me for, anyway.

  16. tozmervo says:

    I solved my stupid email problem pretty quickly. I started responding to the sender with a written outline of the inaccuracies and myths that the email in question was perpetuating (be it misattribution, photoshopped images, etc)

    Sufficed to stay, most of the emails have stopped.

  17. RandomHookup says:


    I think they are thanking you for “do[ing] it all for you”!

  18. karimagon says:

    It’s because they all act on the charming myth that oil companies have supreme control over gas prices. Sure, their greed has something to do with the rise in prices, but mostly, they’re controlled by basic laws of supply and demand; the prices go up because there’s not enough supply to meet the growing demand. Since there’s not much we can do about the supply of a finite resource, the only thing we can do to lower prices is to cut demand. And that will not be accomplished by a one-day boycott. Nor by only buying gas from certain companies.

  19. mantari says:

    “Maybe if we submit this to Digg, if enough people Digg this article, then they’ll have to lower the gas prices!!!”

  20. Anitra says:

    @karimagon: There IS something they could do about supply: build more refineries. There hasn’t been a new refinery built in the U.S. in about 30 years. The refineries that exist are all working at full capacity – hence the price spike when hurricane Katrina put several of them out of commision. There is no slack in the system.

  21. MarkMadsen'sDanceInstructor says:

    Honestly, if people really cared about lowering gas prices they would send emails about boycotting SUVs and trucks or do a “Carpool Day” or “Carpool Month.” But no, they decide that would be too much effort, so instead they engage in a painless boycott that no one will follow and that will have no effect on gas prices.

    On the other hand, I’m beginning to wonder who starts these email campaigns anyway.

  22. Apeweek says:

    I bought a used electric car off eBay two years ago. What a great investment! Only cost me $2000, and another $2000 or so to replace batteries and fix it up. It does freeway speeds, and only costs me about a penny per mile in electricity to drive it around.

  23. pestie says:

    @karimagon: And why is the supply of oil so much less than the demand? Because the oil companies, and OPEC, keep it that way on purpose! They may not have the “supreme control” you claim they do, but they absolutely do have control over prices, and a lot of it. And they’re not afraid to use it.

    I already Snoped (ha! I verbed a noun!) a co-worker for forwarding one of those idiotic “don’t buy gas on this day” e-mails. Freakin’ people…

  24. spanky says:

    You know what’s missing from these plans?

    Ribbons. If we ever want to make a real difference, we need big magnetic ribbons evoking lyrics from Tony Orlando and Dawn songs.

    Knock three times if you want to lower prices. Something like that.

  25. nakmario says:

    blah blah blah i hate OPEC blah blah blah but I’ll never give up my “right” to drive blah blah I don’t actually plan on doing anything about it blah blah i’m just venting because i can’t think of anything original to do and i dont want to get off the couch.

    Silly Americans. Always talking about “free trade” and economics as if they know something and then trying to solve the supply-side of problems while not addressing the demand side.

    Posts like these always remind me of that movie “Idiocracy”.

  26. ValkRaider says:

    Stop driving and gas companies will lower prices.

    It’s a win-win-win. You save money by not buying gas or paying for a car – and you save money when the cheaper fuel allows your food to be produced at a lower cost – and we all save with less congestion, road costs, pollution, and noise.

    But I guess that is not a popular idea.

  27. @AnitraSmith: Very true. sad, but true.

    @spanky: I love the ribbon idea!!! how gauche

    Also, look at gas prices adjusted for inflation:

  28. hop says:

    ah…….if we only had a dependable transit system in this country…………….

  29. rodeobob says:

    My own response to getting these emails is to both point to the Snopes link, but also suggest something positive.

    Instead of “1 day a year”, I suggest “use no gas the last Thursday of the month”. Plan fewer trips in the car, and plan them better. Carpool or take mass transit to work. (or better still, telecommute!) You won’t lower gas prices that way, but you will lower your own consumption, and thus lower your gas bill for the year.

    Get as many folks as you can to participate. (maybe give yourself an exemption for carpooling with a full vehicle) Still won’t lower gas prices, but it should help lower everyone’s fuel bills.

  30. Craig says:

    I can just picture a bunch of Arab oil executives huddle together saying, “Hey, the Americans aren’t buying gas today…we need to lower the price.” Can’t you?

  31. Craig says:

    On a more serious note, how about establishing a National Carpool Day?

  32. bedofnails says:


    I’ll wave to you from the fast lane.

  33. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    How bout not flying silly routes like from Orange County to LA or New York to Philadelphia? It’s faster to DRIVE those distances. Or better yet, take the train.

  34. GitEmSteveDave says:


    My vision is this:

    Ahbdul: Hey Sheik, stop swimming in your pool of money, gold coins, and gems for a minute, and look at this. The Americans are not going to buy gas one day a year.

    The Sheik: OMFG!! I never realized that we have wronged them so much. Quickly, lower the prices, donate all of this wealth to charity, call a meeting of the other chairmen, and grab some swords so we can behead ourselves for wronging so many people.

  35. v8killer says:

    I guess I’ll be filling both my cars’ tanks on May 15.

  36. bedofnails says:


    Go ahead, I can have the entire row to myself.

  37. Brie says:

    I somewhat forgive people with four kids for driving Excruciatings. When I’m feeling charitable, I figure the parent picking up ONE kid in the Excruciating, probably is about to go round up the other kids.

    That said, WTF is up with leaving the Excruciating ON and idling for five minutes in the parking lot while you go get your kid?! It would kill you to turn the fecking car OFF for five damn minutes?

    Can any Consumerists shed light on this? Alternatively, wanna steal an SUV?…

  38. MentalDisconnect says:

    @MissedTheExit: I have seen some rather nice cars left idling with no one inside, no one around… Although I am not the larcenous sort, it is tempting. I wouldn’t take it permanently, just take it for a spin around the block, park it again as they watch me, shocked, and say, “No leave car running!” as I hop out and run away. No really. Never leave your car running if you’re not watching it. If thiefs are going to take something of mine, I at least want to make it difficult.

  39. Brie says:

    @MentalDisconnect: Let’s go enact the valet scene from Ferris Bueller!

  40. Omri says:

    I boycott gasoline during the middle of every month, during the four or five days referred to as “when I approach my credit card limit and before payday”. Does that count? You figure it has the same effect on gas use as owning a hybrid, without all the messy being able to go places easily nonsense…

  41. jwissick says:

    If supply and demand dictates the price of fuel, why does gas only cost 25 cents (.25 dollars for you verizon idiots) in the OPEC nations?

    Why does fuel in areas with NO refineries or oil supply cost less than areas with lots of refineries by 10-20% or more when they have to have fuel trucked in hundreds of miles?

    The cost of crude is artificialy high because of the greed of the OPEC nations.

  42. @Jeff from LA: I’m still waiting for one — JUST ONE — priest to preach from the pulpit on the immorality of SUVs. There’s no conceivable way those fit into Christian theology but GOD FORBID we offend the wealthy donors in the congregation! Of COURSE Jesus wanted everyone to drive gigantic selfish cars! Jesus was ALL ABOUT selfish conspicuous consumption!

  43. emax4 says:

    This simply does not work because the stockholders will make up for the profit the next day.

  44. Canadian Impostor says:

    Though hybrids get better fuel efficiency, you’re not saving money due to the increased cost of the hybrid. Allow me to demonstrate.

    The cost of a 2007 Camry is $18,500. The Camry Hybrid is $26,000. Let’s say gas is $4/gal, which tips this in favor of the Hybrid.

    The Camry gets 34mpg highway. The Camry Hybrid gets 40mpg highway. If you drive your car 400,000 miles, you’ll be at the break even point, meaning after buying $47,000 worth of gas for the Camry, but only $40,000 worth for the Hybrid you’ll be at the financial break even point.

    In conclusion, buy a Hybrid if you want to spend more money to reduce your gasoline consumption, but don’t buy one because gas is too expensive at the pump.

  45. mikyrok says:

    @Jason: You get tax deductions for buying an environmentally friendly vehicle and where hybrids are very useful is not on the highway, it is on local roads where it switches between electric and gas. So your calculations are just flawed.

  46. Canadian Impostor says:

    Those tax deductions are almost gone. Furthermore, my calculations are correct, you take issue with my assumptions.

    If you use city mileage, the regular Camry gets 24 to the Hybrid’s 40 (an important note is that its highway mileage is 38, not 40 as I said above, I misread). This means you’d break even at around 100,000 miles. This of course assumes that you do all of your driving in the city and never touch the highway. Don’t forget that most hybrids don’t get nearly as many MPG as the EPA rates them for city, due to the way the EPA tests them.

    This begs the question, if you never leave the city do you really need a car at all? You’re not going to rack up 100,000 miles on your car never going more than a few miles in it at a time.

    Don’t forget, if you really want to save money you could buy a Toyota Corolla for $14,000 that gets 32MPG city and 41MPG highway.

    Like I said earlier, if you just want to do your part to conserve gas and be responsible, buy a hybrid. They use less gas than most cars. If you just want to save money, you probably should stay away.

  47. @hop: Word. I’m lucky the buses where I live are at least good enough to get along with (I’ve been without a car for over a year).

    Honestly, how does this even count as a boycott? Have we honestly gotten to the point where we consume so much gas that not buying any for 24 hours is supposed to be a hardship? Are they serious?

    Look, if going without food for 24 hours isn’t a hunger strike then not buying gas for 24 hours is definitely not a boycott.

    @Craig: That doesn’t already exist?

  48. scingram says:

    Thanks for using another one of my images guys! :)

    I also got one of these gas related chain letters the other day. I mean it’s a nice thought and all, but I don’t see it being enough of an impact that it will actually change anything…

  49. bedofnails says:

    Wouldn’t a better initiative be to drive without using AC, as this consumes less gasoline?

  50. themanishere says:

    I guess people do not understand how supply and demand work. Or how chaos theory works–they both apply here: say no one buys gas on May 15th which is the coming gas-out. It will cause a ripple effect the gas and oil industry will have never seen. When I worked for a company that supplied gas stations (not Mexican food joints–no beans here), even the slower ones would go through about 7000 gallons of gas a week–the busy ones could do 25,000 gallons plus. Taking one day out of all of these would have an impact of a pebble in a still pond (with no ducks or fish pooping it up). It would build slowly, like, like, like a storm (desert storm, ya get it?) to the might oil barons–the God-like voice that would emerge from the storm would bellow “damn you, damn you oil monkeys to hell” and gas would again be cheap. They can give every reason they want for raising the gas, but just like dracula would say, “they want to suck our money.” Peace out.

  51. tvn3015 says:

    I am sorry if this is in the wrong place or wrong group.
    Acting Together Will Make A Difference! visit now!
    Our objective is to Force the gas companies to lower their gas price by asking the consumers in Canada and in the United States NOT TO PURCHASE ANY GAS from the selected gas companies posted below. We can have a significant impact on the price of gas IF WE ACT TOGETHER to initiate a GAS PRICE WAR!!! So Please Start The Boycott Now!
    Until futher notice WE DO NOT BUY ANY GAS from the following companies
    – Esso
    – Petro-Canada
    – Shell

    – ExxonMobil (all Exxon Mobile Gas Stations)
    – Esso
    – Shell

    YES, WE CAN WIN BUT…It is absolutely NECESSARY To continue purchasing our gas ELSEWHERE Than at the posted gas stations above and this, until we reach our objective. And, MOST OF ALL, HELP US BY FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO FAMILY, FRIENDS, CO-WORKER etc…! CAN WE COUNT ON YOU…?
    Please visit and join us to implement it.

    NO PROTEST! All you have to do is to remember the next time you fill up, STAY AWAY from SHELL, PETRO-CANADA, ESSO, and All ExxonMobil Gas stations.
    “BOYCOTT” is the only option left for us to fight against this crazy gas prices, unless the government involve and regulate the gas price somehow!

  52. enki says:

    The obvious solution is to build cars with antimatter reactors. 100,000 miles per milligram. Unfortunately, due to low supply that milligram will run $300 billion but if we boycott physicists the price will undoubtedly come down.