Attorneys General in a number of southern states are investigating potential price-gouging at gas stations and other businesses where prices were raised in the midst of devastation from recent hurricanes. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office issued subpoenas to seven gas stations, with more expected later this week. The stations in that state allegedly charged consumers $5.49 or more per gallon for gas.
“There’s no excuse for ripping off consumers who are already hurting from high gas prices,” Cooper said. “Gouging for greed will not be tolerated in North Carolina.”
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum also issued a series of subpoenas, but his were to four companies to seek information about reported increases in the price of gasoline throughout the state.
The subpoenas request documentation from the companies detailing the purchase prices the companies paid for gasoline sold at their Florida retail stores.
The Attorney General issued the subpoenas after receiving more than 350 complaints about gasoline price gouging over a four-day period.
“Passing along a justifiable increase in cost to consumers is legal, but we will not tolerate gouging for greed,” McCollum said.
The subpoenas were issued to corporate offices of four major retailers. Consumer complaints against these groups of stations have been particularly high in several areas of the state, including the Tampa region, South Florida, Central Florida, and Tallahassee and the Panhandle, the Florida AG’s office said.
In other areas of the country, retailers reported that gas supplies were running low.
Sheetz convenience store chain, for instance, said it could be several days before some of its outlets are restocked with gasoline after a supply disruption caused by Hurricane Ike, The Associated Press reported.
Sheetz said 25 to 30 of its stores in parts of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia are out of gas due to the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline from the Gulf Coast.
AAA said the pipeline has restarted at a reduced rate, but until supply issues are resolved, drivers can expect spot outages and relatively high prices at the pump.