Weigel Stores Inc. plans to defend itself against a civil action filed by the State Attorney General related to gas prices at seven Weigel’s stores during a five day period last fall, the company announced on Friday, April 17.
“We deeply regret that the Attorney General’s office has chosen to accuse Weigel’s of ‘price-gouging’ based on the sale of less than 9,000 gallons of gasoline during a time when, due to disruptions in our supply of gasoline caused by gulf coast hurricanes last September, we ran out of gasoline at almost all of our stores,” said Bill Weigel, chairman of Weigel Stores Inc.
Weigel’s has cooperated fully and completely with the Attorney General’s investigation, according to company officials. “We were approached by the State Attorney General’s Office and offered the same deal as the 16 companies who settled such allegations with the Attorney General’s office,” Weigel said. “While settling would have cost a lot less than fighting the Attorney General’s lawsuit, we did not overcharge our customers, and we are not going to sign a settlement agreement that implies that we mistreated our customers.”
Under the proposed settlements, which were announced Friday by the Attorney General, the State will file suit against 16 area businesses in Chancery Court and those 16 businesses will sign agreed final judgments.
“When the Gulf Coast refineries were closed by back-to-back hurricanes, we were struggling to maintain supplies,” Weigel said, adding Weigel’s was attempting to buy gas from any source at greatly increased prices in an effort to keep its customers supplied. “We lost over a million gallons in sales, and our profits plummeted, but the Attorney General claims we were charging too much,” Weigel said. Despite its efforts, Weigel’s ran out of gas at most locations.
“Weigel’s has been a proud part of the Knoxville community for more than 75 years and has been privileged to serve and grow with this community,” Weigel said. “We will never treat our customers unfairly, and we are not going to admit to something we did not do.”
Today Weigel’s Farm Stores Inc. operates nearly 50 dairy and convenience stores, all within a 50 mile radius of corporate headquarters in Powell, Tenn.