November 04, 2010

Gas station charging exorbitant prices

Dear Consumer Ed:

The gas station on the corner is charging 30 cents more per gallon than other places in the area.  Isn’t that price gouging?

Consumer Ed says:

Not unless there’s been a state of emergency declared by the Governor.  And even then, maybe not. Georgia’s price-gouging law only applies during a declared state of emergency. While the price gouging statute is in effect, gas stations may raise their prices, but only by the amount that their cost goes up when they receive a new shipment. For example, if a station’s overall costs for its fuel increases by thirty cents a gallon, then the station can raise its retail fuel prices thirty cents—but no more, or the station will be violating the Fair Business Practices Act. 

Remember – during a state of emergency, you may see a station charging more than other stations in the area, but that does not necessarily mean that the station is price-gouging.  The amount stations pay to buy gasoline can vary greatly.

Call the Georgia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-869-1123 if you are unsure of whether the price-gouging statute is currently in effect.  If it is, report any incidences that seem out of the ordinary (e.g., prices-per-gallon that rise by more than a third within a short period of time). 

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