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Lowndes gas stations under investigation

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

October 15, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - What a difference a month can make. Drivers now have a bit of relief as the prices at the pump drop below $3.00 a gallon.

But just one month ago, many drivers were waiting in long lines to pay over $5.00 a gallon. That is, if they could find gas at all.

"It was scary. I was scared what if it didn't go back down? What were we going to do?" says Lacey Stephens.

"It was a shock. It first hit me Saturday when we heard the prices were high and gas was running out. I ran and filled up two of our cars and spent $112 to fill them up," adds Dick Rockey.

Now, 166 gas stations must show the state why they charged so much. That number could go up.

"We authorized our attorney's to send out over 166 subpoenas to gas stations across the state requesting more information on how the they structured their prices," says Shawn Conroy, spokesman for the Georgia Office of Consumer Affairs.

Some stations in South Georgia are part of the investigation.

The Georgia Office of Consumer Affairs says more than a dozen gas stations in our area are suspected of price gouging.

Five gas stations in Lowndes County have been subpoenaed. Three in Lanier County, two in Thomas, Tift and Cook Counties and one in Brooks and Berrien Counties.

They say this was the first round of subpoenas and there could be many more.

Drivers are glad to see stations being held accountable.

"I understand when they go up and down. I think people are taking advantage of people right now and they need to be taken care of. I appreciate the state for doing that," Rockey says.

"I'm definitely glad to see something is being done about it. It's not fair to let it go on the way that it goes on," Stephens says.

They hope it will keep it from happening again.

No stations in Dougherty and Lee Counties have been subpoenaed.

They say if a station raised prices illegally, they will be called to court or asked to make a settlement to customers and pay a fine to the state.