Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), Chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee, today applauded the New York State Attorney General’s office for uncovering and fining two local gas stations that engaged in price gouging. The Attorney General launched the investigation into gas price gouging, which was called for by Senator Fuschillo and other elected officials from across the state, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The investigation is still ongoing.
"The devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused in the Gulf Coast region did not give gasoline retailers the right to rip off consumers by inflating their prices simply to increase their profits," said Senator Fuschillo. "Fortunately, these businesses were discovered and must now pay for their actions. I thank the Attorney General for answering our calls for an investigation and uncovering these criminal acts."
The Attorney General fined two local retailers, the USA Gas station on Merrick Road in Freeport and the Exxon gas station on Sunrise Highway in Merrick, along with 13 other gas stations from across the state, for price gouging consumers. According to the Attorney General’s office, these stations all increased their markup on the gas (the difference between the cost of the gas and its sale price) by 25 percent or more after the hurricane.
The Attorney General’s office stated that the amount of the fines levied varied based on a number of factors, such as the size of the price increases; number of days that gouging occurred; and the amounts the stations spent to replenish inventories. In addition to the penalties, the agreements contain a provision that will result in much larger fines (up to $10,000) for each station if they are again caught price gouging.
To further combat price gouging, Senator Fuschillo sponsored legislation in the New York State Senate that would increase the maximum fine for price gouging to $25,000. The legislation is currently being reviewed by the Senate’s Rules Committee.
If you feel that you have been a victim of price gouging, please call the New York State Consumer Protection Board’s Gas Price Gouging Hotline at 1-800-214-4372.
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