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Subpoenas keep coming in gasoline-price investigation

Posted September 22, 2008

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— The state Monday subpoenaed records from the owners of three gasoline stations as part of Attorney General Roy Cooper’s probe of possible price-gouging before Hurricane Ike hit Texas.

The subpoenas for information about prices charged at stations in Charlotte and Yadkinville bring the number of gas stations under investigation to 26.

“Consumers deserve to be treated fairly when they fill up,” Cooper said in a statement. “If we uncover evidence that Hurricane Ike was used illegally to run up prices and gouge consumers, we’ll take legal action.”

Last week, Cooper’s office sent subpoenas to owners of 23 gas stations that reportedly sold gas for more than $5.35 a gallon 10 days ago as Ike took aim at the Texas Gulf Coast. Fears that the storm would cripple U.S. oil-refining capacity prompted runs on area gas stations, and many drivers were outraged that prices skyrocketed overnight.

More than 4,300 reports of possible gas-price gouging have been filed with the Attorney General's Office since Sept. 12.

The stations previously subpoenaed are in Anson, Ashe, Buncombe, Cherokee, Craven, Cumberland, Guilford, Iredell, McDowell, Montgomery, Stanley, Transylvania and Yadkin counties. The three stations in Monday's round of subpoenas reportedly charged between $4.49 and $5.35 per gallon.

Retailers have 10 days to provide documentation to the Attorney General’s Office, including information on their costs.

Companies face a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation of the state price-gouging law. Those who demonstrate that they were simply passing along sudden increases in their wholesale costs won't be penalized under the state price-gouging law.

“Our price-gouging law gives us the tools to go after retailers, distributors or wholesalers if they try to run up prices unfairly during a time of disruption,” Cooper said. “The law also serves as a deterrent to price gouging throughout the supply chain.”


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  • baileysmom3 Sep 23, 2008

    my store refuses to buy premium and is now only going to sell the regular until the prices go down.

  • baileysmom3 Sep 23, 2008

    only $5000 per gas station? thats like saying go ahead gouge prices the fines are so cheap that it doesnt matter if you gouge, you still end up ahead.

  • M-Man Sep 22, 2008

    When we are done with the gas stations, I would like the AG to check into the price gouging of popcorn, drinks and candies at the movie theaters.

  • ++Ajax++ Sep 22, 2008

    Only 3????????? Why are the prices still high now? The hurricane hit over a week ago. Percy Flowers had it for $4.89 friday of the hurricane and then on saturday it went down to 3.99. Talk about price gouging geeeeesh.

  • RPD Sep 22, 2008

    I was in Houston last week from Wed - Sun and gas was under $3.40 a gallon. No supply disruptions there.

  • mikc727 Sep 22, 2008

    How about our attorney general spending his time on something more important than investigating and fining a few dozen gas stations. If "you people" were not so dim, you simply would not buy gas from these stations again and the free market would police itself. Geez.

  • Worland Sep 22, 2008

    Before one goes blaming oil companies for the high price of gasoline, you should take a gander at their quarterly statements. Exxon, the most chastised of all oil companies, lost $700 Million last quarter refining gas. Their record profits have been due to a huge increase in natural gas sales and retail prices (which are often dictated by state gov't).

    The wholesale price of gas during the last few weeks was around $2.50 a gallon. That means we should be paying about $3.10 at the pump. Ike had little effect on the wholesale gas market. Someone is making a killing on gasoline, but it's not the oil companies. Low supply... High demand.

    Though the newsies won't report it, and the politians won't go there... your 401k and mutual funds caused the high oil prices. Investment houses with billions doing little to nothing in the S&P and DOW poured money into oil. They crippled the world because you whined your mutuals weren't making enough... nice.

  • ChristaS Sep 22, 2008

    AGAIN.....I say fine 'em and fine 'em big and rebate it back to the consumers who were gyped in the process. Otherwise, this means NOTHING but more money for the STATE......and that does us NO good......

  • chipholland Sep 22, 2008

    Does "Per violation" mean for each customer sale they made at the higher prices, they would be fined $5000? Or does it mean $5000 (period) if found guilty of gouging?

  • OpenM1nd Sep 22, 2008

    Doesn't the U.S. Attorney General have the same power to go after the big oil companies who have been gouging at us since gas prices rose above $2.50 per gallon, crippling the entire country's economy in the process? I'd start there. Then I'd go after a very corrupt political process.