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Roma refused rentals by Swedish garages: report

Roma refused rentals by Swedish garages: report

Published: 03 Oct 2012 08:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Oct 2012 08:01 GMT+02:00

One out of three petrol stations in Sweden refused to rent cars to people dressed in traditional Roma clothing in a test carried out by a Swedish broadcaster, a practice one former employee attributed to "deep-rooted xenophobia".

For the test, Sveriges Radio (SR) asked people dressed in traditional Roma clothing to attempt to rent cars from 65 petrol stations across the country, including stations operated by Statoil, OKQ8, and Preem.

On 22 occasions, the Roma-dressed customers were told that the stations had no cars available. But when a reporter from SR came to the same stations 30 minutes later, there were no problems renting a vehicle.

"It's very insulting and it's really unbelievable that people can look you in the eye and lie to your face," Pirjo Lindström, a Finnish Roma who helped carry out the test, told SR

Christian Wallén, a former employee at several Statoil petrol stations, told SR that discriminatory practices are standard procedure at the stations.

"There was a directive to employees to behave in this way," he told the broadcaster, theorizing that the practice stemmed from a "deep-rooted xenophobia".

While Wallén admitted he knew of incidents involving Roma customers, the problems didn't warrant intentional discrimination.

"Of course there were incidents, but that happened with Swedish customers too, so in that way, I don't think it's justified," he said.

Ola Enquist, head of Statoil's full-service stations in Sweden, reacted strongly to the report that stations under his management systematically discriminated against Roma.

"If it's true that it's like this, that's very serious; that's against our policy; that's not how we work," he told SR.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

09:00 October 3, 2012 by azimuth
What's wrong about calling them gypsies? Is it also "politically incorrect"? Took me quite some time to realize W.T.F. is Roma...
09:11 October 3, 2012 by Programmeny
Europeans are confused. They prefer calling them Rroma and Sinti instead of Gypsies and fail to realize that there are two different kinds of people.

There are gypsies and there are Rroma. Yeah, also, the correct form is Rroma, with two "r".

The Rroma hate to be called gypsies, and the gypsies hate to be called Rroma. They are TWO VERY DIFFERENT kinds of people.

Also, I think calling them Rroma just increases the degree of discrimination and xenophobia against Romanians, which unfortunately share the start of the name with the Rroma people.

Most unvoluntarily just associate all Romanians with Rroma, forgetting that the Romanian people are light haired, blonde, red head and dark haired with green, blue or brown eyes and most of them are really honest and hard working.
09:14 October 3, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
Xenophobia? Or perhaps a statistical correlation performed at Statoil that shows rentals to Roma lead to losses in the business.

"Christian Wallén, a former employee at several Statoil petrol stations"... Take this with a grain of salt, former employee who quit or was fired? Might affect his view on his previous employer.
09:17 October 3, 2012 by azimuth
At another glance to the topic of the article, I sounded to me as if the Rome fans were refused car rentals LOL!
09:24 October 3, 2012 by RobinHood
Why are people all over Europe so unwilling to do business with the Roma? What has led to this "deep-rooted xenophobia"?

Plenty of other communities, races and religions have no problems renting cars, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants etc.

What's so different about the Roma that has created this trust deficit?
09:28 October 3, 2012 by gnilkev
Hundreds of years of Romanis raising their kids to be thieves is what has created this trust deficit.
09:42 October 3, 2012 by Migga
What source is Christian Wallén using when he`s theorizing what the practice stemmed from? His own imagination? What proof is there that it comes from "deep-rooted xenophobia" and not crime statistics?
09:53 October 3, 2012 by occassional
Respect and trust are not demanded but earned. They have had their fingers burnt before and have now "adjusted their practices". Good for Statoil.
10:07 October 3, 2012 by Swedish Cat
@ Migga

You beat me to it!

Gypsies don't just have a bad name because of their colour of skin. They are a terror to have in your country surrounding. They are not even wanted in their own country of some reason. They respect nothing and nothing you can do about it. They camp in your garden, along the roads, dirty and destroy everything in their path. If you catch the perp the entire family revenges and you have your house, company burned down. There is no law they respect. France got so desperate after all terrorising that the government offered them money to leave out of free will as nothing else they could do. Many took the money and still came back continuing. Big scandal as France were called racist long after that. Our laws are not ready for people like this and we stand powerless. Statoil would have their cars destroyed and taken over permanent without Payment. Nothing the police could do even if they arrested the few who did it.
10:29 October 3, 2012 by skogsbo
Good on the staff for saying no, clearly well trained and saving the owner losses.
12:31 October 3, 2012 by Svensksmith
Funny, when I dressed up in a black hoodie, gloves and a ski mask, they wouldn't rent to me, either.
14:40 October 3, 2012 by riose

Because they discriminate themselves from society.

They have been all around Europe for hundreds of years and they have not integrated.

If they get a job their own people will discriminate them. It is not well seen to work like the rest of the people do. So instead they beg and steal, which is ok for them.

Of course, these are stereotypes, and some do integrate. But I doubt that those who wear the clothes are the ones who do.
00:15 October 4, 2012 by frenchviking
Good risk management...

Why should statoil be forced to do business with someone when there is 90% chance they will loose money? The car would be destroyed or stolen most likely...
02:20 October 4, 2012 by anticommie
Look at all the racism pouring out in sweden, good thing this aint about blacks in the US or the PC liberals would be all over the place.
12:43 October 4, 2012 by bryan73
I've often feel that companies (but not government agencies) should have the right to discriminate as they see fit. And sometimes, this is done with no issues at all: auto insurance companies, for example, are allowed to do this when it comes to age and gender.

If the Roma car rental segment is a profitable yet un-addressed market, then here's an opportunity for some company to come along and take advantage of a niche.

I don't know what the stats are about Roma and rentals. It would have been interesting --but amazing-- if Sveriges Radio would have reported something on that. And of course the individual employees at SR are free to lend out their personal vehicles to anyone they want, so here is a chance for them to lend a hand to those in need.
07:21 October 5, 2012 by prince T
@azomuth. Pls call them dat name to their face next time u see a roma person instead of on this forum. Coward. @ frenchviking, i have just finished commenting on your racist comment on another forum. U mean to tell me that all are not equal before d law. like i always say racist brains are shallow. Why am i not suprised at ur comment.

The question for me is that. Is it a policy of statoil to commit this horendous act or d staff taking laws in thier hands.
18:54 October 5, 2012 by Taildragger
Roma/"gypsies" have made their own bed. A few (or maybe much more than a few) have established their reputation, ruining things for the rest.

There was a notorious "Williamson Clan" in the US who used to get car loans from the finance arm of General Motors, and never make payments. When the cars were repossessed, they'd simply reapply for another car loan, and were often approved. Numerous household repair scams (resurfacing driveways with substandard materials, etc.) are perpetrated in a local area, then the clan moves on. Police know all about this.

The notoriety of gypsies (like fortune telling scammers) has been established for hundreds of years, for good reason. It's common knowledge widely accepted. To attibute this to some kind of nefarious racism rather than economic experience seem naive, to say the least.
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