Schneiderman warns against gasoline price gouging following Hurricane Harvey

Reduced Gas Supply Impacts NY; A.G. Urges New Yorkers to Report Potential Consumer Exploitation To His Office

Schneiderman: We’ll Hold Accountable Those Who Capitalize On The Storm At The Expense Of Hardworking New Yorkers

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today issued a consumer alert warning both consumers and businesses about gasoline price gouging following Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent reduction in supply that has impacted New York State.

“Experience has shown that some gas station owners use severe storms as an opportunity to exploit consumers,” said Schneiderman. “Hurricane Harvey has led to gas price spikes across the country, including in New York – but we’ll hold accountable those who seek to capitalize on the storm at the expense of hardworking New York families.”

On the Thursday following Hurricane Harvey, gasoline prices across the country rose to a two-year high. Similarly, the statewide average price of gasoline has risen 23 cents per gallon since Harvey made landfall in Texas over a week ago. The shutdown of major refineries and the closure of the Colonial Pipeline used to carry gas from Texas to the Northeast are respectively having a significant effect on nationwide and local prices.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, New Yorkers have seen the following fluctuation in gas prices.

New York average gas prices as of September 2:

Regular Mid-Grade Premium Diesel
Current Avg. $2.709 $2.863 $3.072 $2.770
Friday Avg. $2.607 $2.805 $3.014 $2.741
Week Ago Avg. $2.479 $2.735 $2.937 $2.704
Month Ago Avg. $2.464 $2.715 $2.923 $2.682
Year Ago Avg. $2.335 $2.583 $2.792 $2.539

The General Business Law prohibits excessive increases in prices of essential goods and services like gasoline resulting from natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey that significantly disrupt the market. Furthermore, New York State’s Price Gouging Law (General Business Law § 396-r) prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption of the market,” as represented by a gross disparity between the price of the product immediately prior to and after such an occurrence. The price gouging law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers.

While some increases in the price of gas are to be expected following a natural disaster, the Office of the Attorney General will not tolerate excessive price increases for consumers farthest far exceeds the increase in cost to companies. Since taking office, the Attorney General has fought to protect consumers from similar cases of price gouging and has taken action against predatory companies. As a result of the Attorney General’s investigation into high gas prices during Hurricane Sandy, Attorney General Schneiderman secured over $300,000 in penalties and costs from more than 40 gas stations in New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley that gouged their customers.

Attorney General Schneiderman urges any New Yorker who believes they have been the victim of price gouging to call the Attorney General’s office at 800-771-7755 or visit www.ag.ny.gov/price-gouging-complaint-form to file a complaint.

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