AG Cooper’s gas price gouging investigation pays off
Release date: 6/3/2009
AG wins more than $56,000 from 11 gas stations, files suit against two others
Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper has won a total of more than $56,000 in consumer refunds, energy assistance funds and civil penalties from 11 gas stations and has filed suit against the owners of three gas stations as part of a price gouging investigation started by his office in the fall of 2008.
“People let us know about suspected price gouging and we took action,” Cooper said. “We’ve put money back in consumers’ pockets and sent a strong message that we won’t tolerate those who try to make an unfair profit off of a disaster.”
The Attorney General’s Office began investigating possible price gouging by North Carolina gas stations after thousands of consumer complaints started pouring in on September 12, 2008. North Carolina’s law against price gouging was triggered that day by the declaration of an abnormal market disruption due to Hurricane Ike striking the Gulf Coast.
In the latest actions related to this investigation, Cooper today announced that he has filed suit against the owner of two Yadkinville gas stations and won refunds and penalties from a Greensboro gas station.
In a complaint filed today in Wake County Superior Court, Cooper contends that LR&S Inc. overcharged consumers at two gas stations in Yadkinville. The complaint alleges that the company’s Four Sisters Center gas station at 513 E. Main Street and Yadkinville Food Mart at 909 N. State Street raised their retail prices for gas from under $4 a gallon to as much as $5.679 a gallon within a matter of hours on September 12, 2008. That price hike increased the company’s mark up over wholesale costs by more than 400 percent, according to the Attorney General’s investigation. The stations dropped their prices later that day after the news media reported they were price gouging. Cooper is asking the court to order LR&S to pay refunds to consumers and civil penalties to the state.
Under a settlement announced today, the owner of Irving Park BP has agreed to pay more than $5,400 in refunds and penalties to resolve allegations that it gouged customers by charging $5.199 a gallon for gas on September 11 and 12, 2008. According to Cooper’s investigation, the station located at 2009 N. Elm Street in Greensboro overcharged consumers by more than $430.
Cooper previously won refunds for consumers, civil penalties for public schools, and payments to special funds to provide energy assistance to low-income North Carolinians from the following gas stations: Circle B gas station in Fayetteville; five Big D gas stations in Murphy, Marble and Hayesville; The Corner Market gas station in Jefferson; Old Fort Citgo in Old Fort; M & J Food Mart in Asheville; and Shell To Go in McLeansville.
In addition, Cooper filed suit in October of 2008 against Steven Compton, owner and manager of Tire Pro also known as Troy BP, located at 104 Courthouse Square in Troy. That case is currently in discovery.
Although today’s announcement wraps up the investigation into price gouging by gas stations, Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division is still investigating possible price gouging by gas wholesalers and distributors.
The Attorney General’s Office has issued letters to 12 gas station owners that it has not found a violation that warrants any further action at this time.
Contact: Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413