Local News

Gas Distributor Settles Price-Fixing Complaint

Posted August 1, 2007

— A Mebane-based gas distributor accused of conspiring to fix prices and trying to force a Durham gas station to raise its prices after Hurricane Katrina has agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Wednesday.

The Attorney General's Office sued McLeod Oil Co. Inc. and Home Oil Inc. in October 2005, alleging that they tried to fix the price of gas sold in Durham County and raise prices by at least 20 cents a gallon. The alleged conspiracy came a few weeks after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast and disrupted oil refinery production, sending gas prices up nationwide.

One gas station refused to go along with the price increase and reported the effort to authorities.

Under a consent judgment signed Monday by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, McLeod Oil and Home Oil are barred from trying to set the price of gas at stations they supply and from establishing a minimum price above which stations must sell their gas. They also cannot retaliate against anyone who refused to peg gas prices or cooperated with the state investigation.

“Price fixing hurts competition and consumers’ wallets,” Cooper said in a statement. “We’re sending a message to other companies
that we expect them to do right by consumers and small businesses or we’ll hold them accountable.”


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  • Jokers Wild II Aug 2, 2007

    AfricanAmerican - I do not think gas goes stale, I have had some in the garage over the winter and used it to cut grass with 5 or 6 months later or so, and it worked fine... I do know that with those underground tanks they use that they are at risk for water to enter the tanks from condensation, rain, etc.. So i dunno?? Thats a good question.

  • WXYZ Aug 2, 2007

    Why high gas prices? Quick history lesson: No new oil refineries in past 15 years = inadequate supply = higher prices. Clinton's administration allowed distributors and refiners to merge during the 1990's = much less competition today = unstable and higher prices = steady inflation. Bush + Congress + State Gov. showing little effort to stabilize energy, which underpins our entire economy. Easley's legislature leading the way with forces to sustain inflation by raising taxes and fees and the states annual budget EVERY YEAR. Folks, check the NC office of budget: Easley's legislature has DOUBLED the state budget in the last 10 years! Why? Pork barrel, pet projects, legacy building and bald-faced SOCIALISM! PLEASE remember this when it is time to VOTE!

  • DrunkSober Aug 2, 2007

    I always laugh when I pass by this station and others and see no one there yet down the road everyone else is lined up.The public is smarter than some of these guys think because unless am totally on empty,why would I stop by there? By the way, does gas go 'stale'if not bought in a certain period of time?

  • then who cares Aug 2, 2007

    African-American, he's right; that's not price gouging--that's price-fixing! That's about as despicable!! Either way, his greed is his primary driving force; and to hell with other families!!

  • Jokers Wild II Aug 2, 2007

    AfricanAmerican - I do not own a Gas Station but If I did, and I got charged a higher price by the distributor than my competitors then I would have to raise the price to make a profit.. What part of my post said I liked price gougers??? Its a free country, you can shop where you want to shop!! You Implied that there should be criminal charges brought against the company that sold gas 10 cents higher.. That is NOT price gouging. Price Gougins is when he jacks the price up way higher during a disaster or some other event just to maximize his profits from others misfortune.. much like during hurricanes people jack the price of generators up, if they sold the generators at those prices year round, who could say anything???

  • DrunkSober Aug 2, 2007

    JokersWild, do you own that gas station?Everyone else is trying to fight price gougers and you are on their side?

  • Jokers Wild II Aug 2, 2007

    AfricanAmerican - Why would the AG's Office be concerned with a FREE ENTERPRISE charging 10 cents more per gallon?? It is not against the law to sell gas at those prices. If his gas prices were that much higher it could be because of several things, including the fact that the store owner might have to pay a higher cost from the distributor! The whole issue with this story was that the Distributor tried to fix gas prices by telling each gas station what they could sell the gas for.. and they refused to fill the tanks of anyone refusing to raise the price. If I remember correctly the store that refused had his tanks pad-locked and a judge ordered his tanks unlocked... Silly Distributor, Oppression is for Goverments!

  • then who cares Aug 1, 2007

    The gas station owner should be contacted by attorneys who should advise him of his right to sue the gas distributor! That $25,000 fine was a nice gesture but it should go to the one who refused to be bullied! But since it doesn't work that way then he should sue! But even if he doesn't I thank him for having the courage to stand up for what is right!!! Of course, the gouger will find a way to steal back his fine!!!

  • DrunkSober Aug 1, 2007

    There is this gas station on Cary parkway near Kildaire farm, that also doubles as a car wash that always overcharges on gas prices by at least a dime.I wonder why anyone goes there and whether they will soon be targeted by the AG as well.

  • mep Aug 1, 2007

    I'm not a big fan of govt regulation..... but it sure would be nice if gasoline was regulated as a utility rather than it being sold on the futures market. Let the big oil companies go before a utility board and try to justify BILLIONS of dollars in profit! But it just wouldn't work. Too much money involved.