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Local News November 23, 2012  RSS feed

Gas Stations Caught Price Gouging

AG Takes Action In L.I.C., J.H., Greenpoint

The operators of 13 gas stations——including locations in Long Island City, Jackson Heights and Greenpoint—have been notified by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that his office intends to commence enforcement proceedings against them for alleged price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging and we are taking action to send a message that ripping off New Yorkers is against the law,” said Schneiderman in a Thursday, Nov. 15 press release announcing the action. “We will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives.”

New York State’s Price Gouging Law (General Business Law 396-r) prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption of the market.”

While the law doesn’t specifically define what constitutes an excessive price, state officials can use “before- and-after” price analyses, as well as studies of the price at which similar goods or services were being sold for at other locations.

The law covers vendors, retailers and suppliers, including but not limited to supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, bodegas, delis, and taxi and livery cab drivers.

Among the stations being cited for violating the law are the Mobil station at 40-40 Crescent St. in Long Island City, which reportedly raised its prices to $4.89 a gallon in Sandy’s wake; the Shell station at 71-08 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights, which allegedly jacked its rates to $5.50 a gallon; and the Sonomax at 278 Greenpoint Ave. in Greenpoint, which reportedly raised prices to $4.74 a gallon.

The Delta gas station at 1309 14th Ave. in College Point was also cited, along with one gas station in Nassau County, three in Suffolk County, three in Westchester County and two in the Bronx.

Schneiderman noted in the case of the Mobil station in Long Island City, the price per gallon was posted at the roadside as $3.89, but when the consumer got to the pump, the sign noted a cash price of $4.89 for regular gas and a credit card price of $4.99. Similar situations were noted throughout the area.

If you believe you are a victim of price gouging or a post-hurricane scam, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Helpline at 800-771-7755 or find a complaint form online at: www.ag.ny.gov