New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office announced today that it is probing 13 gas stations for alleged price gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
New York's price gouging law prohibits selling "consumer goods" at an "unconscionably excessive price" when the market is disturbed by "weather events, power failures, strikes, civil disorder, war," and other unusual events.
Because gasoline is considered crucial to health and safety during an emergency, it is a "consumer good," and sellers cannot drastically raise its price when the law is in effect.
Based on consumer complaints and independent pricing information, the Attorney General identified 13 stations that "stand out" for especially high prices, and, more importantly, an increase in prices in the wake of the hurricane.
The stations are located in every New York City borough except Manhattan, as well as Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau Counties. According to consumer complaints, all were charging $4.74 or more per gallon of gasoline.
The Attorney General's office is beginnining enforcement actions against the 13 stations, notifying them of the potential charges and requesting pricing information, including how much they paid to purchase the gas they sold.
If found guilty, they face fines.
In a press release, Attorney General Schneiderman said:
Today's action is the first in a series of steps my office will take as we continue to actively investigate the hundreds of complaints we've received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy. We will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives.
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