AG Cooper on the look out for gas price fixing
Release date: 8/31/2005
Raleigh: As gas prices rise across North Carolina and the country, Attorney General Roy Cooper today encouraged North Carolina consumers to watch out for price fixing by gas stations and to take steps to save money at the pump.
“Trying to profit from a natural disaster or other crisis is wrong, and I hope that North Carolina businesses won’t stoop to that level,” said Cooper. “But if consumers have evidence of price fixing, I want to know about it. Since gas prices are on the rise in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I also want consumers to know they can take some simple steps to save money on gas.”
North Carolina has laws against price fixing, which can occur when competitors agree together to raise or fix their prices. Any consumers who have evidence of price fixing by gas stations in their area are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Consumers can download a complaint form at www.ncdoj.gov or can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM to receive a complaint form in the mail.
Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law, but that law only applies when a disaster has been declared by the Governor. No declaration of disaster for North Carolina is now in effect.
Cooper today also wrote to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to monitor the gasoline market in North Carolina for any illegal practices. “It is essential that we stamp out any instances of price fixing or price gouging by oil companies or others within the gasoline supply chain in the event they occur,” Cooper wrote to FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras. “We must not permit anyone in the gasoline supply chain to profit from a natural disaster by taking advantage of consumers.”
There are many global factors impacting gas prices that are beyond the authority of the Attorney General’s Office, including the shut down of oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina. However, Cooper offered the following tips consumers can follow to save money on gas.
Shop around. Encourage competition by taking your business to gas stations with lower prices.
Slow down. Keeping your speed down means you’re burning less of that expensive gas. Using cruise control and the overdrive gear on your car can also help.
Tune up. To increase your miles per gallon, keep your engine tuned, replace clogged oil and air filters, and make sure your oxygen sensor works properly. Using the right grade of motor oil for your car and keeping your tires properly inflated will also help.
Stick to regular gas unless your owner’s manual specifies you need a higher grade.
Plan your route. Combine trips to save gas. For example, run errands while on your way to work or while taking your kids to school. Also, consider carpooling or use public and alternative forms of transportation.
Pick the right vehicle. If you own more than one car, drive the one that gets the best gas mileage.
Don’t idle. Turn off your engine if you plan to sit for awhile.
Don’t overload your trunk. Clear unnecessary things from your trunk and avoid hauling large items on your roof to improve your gas mileage.