State officials look into gas prices - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State officials look into gas prices

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

September 15, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs reported they have had 140 official complaints about price gouging of gasoline, and 48 businesses have been put on notice that they will be investigated.

The GOCA is are faxing out these warnings of Georgia law to businesses.

Officials say their phones have been busy all day taking complaints, but they are urging Georgians who think they have been the victim of price gouging to report violators.

Dougherty County's Sheriff thinks price gouging has happened, and his deputies are keeping records.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Deputies again Monday were checking prices on the pumps at all stations in the county, and keeping records to prevent price gouging.

Georgia law says businesses can not sell goods necessary to protect health, safety, or property at prices higher than the prices at which those same goods were offered before the declaration.

That declaration was made Friday at 7PM. But gas stations can pass on the increase in their price they pay to get gas.

Sheriff Jamil Saba says in his opinion a lot of price gouging is going on. "I think there is a lot of it, but we're going to have to let Consumer Affairs handle it," said Sheriff Saba.

AAA says the state average for regular gas Friday was $3.66. Monday, it's $4.16. Albany's average is even higher than that at $4.30.

In their warning being sent to stations today, state officials are warning businesses they could be fined from two thousand dollars to $25,000. Department of Agriculture inspectors are also taking data for price gouging investigations.

Saba says his deputies will continue to monitor gas prices until the state of emergency is called off, and that he will report any possible violators. "We got to look after the people. This is their community. And I think the gas stations ought to look after the people themselves."

The Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs can fine violators of the price gouging law between two thousand dollars to $25,000 per violation, which means each individual customer.

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