Revenue agents check area gas stations - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Revenue agents check area gas stations

September 14, 2005

Albany -- State revenue agents were sent to police about 250 gas stations across the state, hunting for gas gougers, and of nearly 40 they checked in Albany, they decided to take a closer look at three.

But officials say the investigation doesn't necessarily mean any action will be taken against them.

Lunch time turned into a mad dash for cheap gas. "I told my husband, I said let's get over there," says Venise Lewis.

Unleaded was going for $2.41 at the Express Lane on Sylvester Road, until about 12:45. "The tanks are dry on regular. Now only thing you can get is premium. I put in a little over two gallons and it ran out," says Frank Eastman.

But with prices about 30 cents lower than most Albany stations, customers who were waiting for regular filled up on premium. "All they've got is premium. Well that's still cheaper than the other stations, so I'll get premium," says Katie Fagan.

"Everywhere else it's $2.90, $3.00 and that's just too much for our budget plans," Lewis says.

"They're gouging over on that west side of town. I know so," says Ken Lawson.

State revenue agents checked 37 stations in Albany Tuesday, searching for gougers and those not complying with the gas tax moratorium ordered by Governor Sonny Perdue.

Their price threshold was $2.90, which three stations were charging. But state officials say there may be a reason prices are so high and haven't yet decided if they'll pass their findings on to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Express Lane owners say they're aren't trying to lure more customers by selling cheap gas, but are just working to maintain compliance with the law. They say they weren't charging any less than other stations at the beginning of the month, and have dropped their prices 37 cents since Perdue ordered the tax break September 2nd.

Retailers found pocketing the 15 cents per gallon tax break they're supposed to be passing on to consumers could face fines up to $25,000. It will be up to the Department of Consumer Affairs to decide if they'll take any action against the Albany retailers.

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