Subpoenas issued for gas stations who may have gouged motorists - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Subpoenas issued for gas stations who may have gouged motorists

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

September 16, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Consumer Affairs office is issuing subpoenas Tuesday night for the records of Georgia gas stations where ridiculously high prices are being charges.

Since Friday, the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs has gotten 456 complaints of price gouging. Tuesday, that office called on its inspectors to begin reviewing those complaints.

They're also working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture's Fuel and Measure's inspectors to make sure gas stations aren't ripping off customers. It's also getting harder just to find gas at any price.Most stations are either completely out of gasoline or offering just one grade.

In 2005 several Albany stations were investigated by the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs for price gouging and now that may be the situation again.  Because this is an ongoing investigation, the office can't say specifically which stations in south Georgia they may be looking at, but representatives told me today they feel sure investigators will be contacting several south Georgia stations asking them to produce records explaining why their prices jumped Friday. In addition to the prices, many stations are now out of gas.

The search is on and in Albany, finding a gallon of gas isn't as easy as you think.

"It was kind of difficult because everywhere has their pumps bagged up," said Henry Davis, a motorist.

"I went to four different gas stations before I found one," said Katrina Taylor, a motorist.

We drove the length of Slappey Boulevard and here's what we found, of the 16 stations operating, nine were out of gasoline, seven had some grades, but not a single station had all three grades of gasoline. Junebug's Grocery on Oakridge is one of the few offering customers all three grades and they're even taking a loss, charging customers less than what they paid to fill their tanks.

"A little money on the last load, but then if I get it today, the gas market is a tough market," said Parish Patel, of Junebug's Grocery.

At Washburn's Chevron on Gillionville Road state inspectors were investigating a customer's complaint. The station's pumps are old and won't go above four dollars so they've cut the price in half and are charging double.

"Most of them are measurement complaints, pumps aren't calibrated right and then you have a few of them complaining about the price, course everybody is complaining about the price I guess," said Tony Davis an Inspector.

As the complaints continue to be investigated station owners who have gas worry soon their pumps will be empty as well.

"I try every morning eight o'clock to call the salesman and he said he's trying to get it," said Patel.

Consensus Tuesday from station owners was that the supply issue may be cleared up Thursday when many expect supplies to return to near normal conditions, but they worry how much they'll pay to fill their tanks.

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