It's not the most popular list in America.
HowToBuyAmerican.com lists 331 consumer goods-from cheese to insect repellant-made by French companies as part of a grass-roots boycott of the country for its stance against a U.S.-led war in Iraq. Nos. 293, 294 and 295 are tire brands BFGoodrich, Michelin and Uniroyal.
Nan Banks, director of public relations for Michelin North America Inc., said the subsidiary of Clermont-Ferrand, France-based Michelin Group received about 200 phone calls and e-mails from consumers as soon as several Web sites calling for a boycott were launched the week of March 10. That same week, France was vowing to veto a second U.S. resolution calling for a March 17 deadline for Iraqi disarmament.
The following week-during which coalition forces launched the attack-Ms. Banks said only about 100 consumers contacted the Greenville-based company.
``In the grand scheme of things, it has not been a deluge,'' she said, adding Michelin does not expect to see a dip in sales.
Since March, the number of responses has continued to dwindle, Ms. Banks said. Still, the tire maker said it has responded to nearly every e-mail or call.
``We really wanted to make sure people understood,'' she said. ``We weren't trying to be evasive, we are trying to tell the truth. And the truth is that 20,000 Americans work for Michelin.''
She said the responses ranged from explaining where the tires are manufactured, to who owns the company or how profits are distributed.
``When you buy a Michelin tire in the U.S., it is almost certain it is a product made in the U.S.,'' she said.
The tire maker also has received calls from dealers asking how they can respond to customers' questions about Michelin. Ms. Banks suggested dealers show concerned consumers the DOT code, which can irrefutably show whether the tire was made domestically.
``(The French government's position) hit a nerve with people, and you can understand that people want some way to express their opinion,'' she said.
Darrell Cobb, owner of Cobb Tire and Service Inc. in Greenville, said he had only three customers in mid-March who refused to buy Michelin brands from his two stores, which are Michelin Alliance outlets.
``You figure out how many tire customers I've got, (and) that's nothing,'' he said, adding he was able to locate Bridgestone tires for two of the three customers.
Paxton Tire & Service Inc. in Dimmitt, Texas, has taken Michelin brands off its shelves, said owner Kenny Paxton. Though he made the move as the French government started a campaign against U.S. efforts in the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Paxton said his view of Michelin has soured in past years because of what he said are diminishing dealer relations coupled with rising prices, particularly for light truck tires. As a result, he has not decided if he will again stock the brand if political tensions ease.
``We've been able to replace them with other brands,'' Mr. Paxton said. ``I don't think we've lost any sales from it.''
Paxton Tire also sells primarily Goodyear in addition to Toyo, Michelin, Lee and Kelly brands.
Ms. Banks at Michelin said she was not aware of other dealers taking the tires off their shelves.
But besides calls from customers, the war also has impacted Michelin in another way-about 50 employees have been deployed in the military. Michelin said it is continuing to pay those employees the difference between their civilian and military wages and benefits, as the tire maker had in the Gulf War of 1991. Ms. Banks said she is not aware if some temporary workers had been hired.
``We'll make sure they don't lose anything in terms of their pay or benefits,'' she said of the military reservists.