A Norwalk Shell station has settled charges of price gouging during Sandy, paying the state Department of Consumer Protection $1,449.
From the DCP Thursday morning:
A Norwalk Shell gasoline station has signed an agreement with the Department of Consumer Protection and has paid $1,449 to the agency to settle allegations that the station raised its retail gas price by 10 cents per gallon on November 1, 2012, without there being a corresponding increase in wholesale gas prices for that day. The conduct occurred in the immediate aftermath of Storm Sandy. State law prohibits fuel suppliers from charging unconscionably excessive prices during times of abnormal market disruptions, such as storm-related disasters.
“Given that the state was in a period of abnormal market disruption due to the severe impact of Storm Sandy, we determined that the Shell station’s 10-cent per gallon increase was not justified and constituted an unconscionably excessive price for gasoline,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said today. “The retailer sold 4,830 gallons of gasoline that day at the increased price, but we are requiring him to disgorge three times the amount of that unfair profit.”
The Shell station is known as Connecticut Avenue Shell and is located at 307 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk. While the station does not admit to any wrongdoing, it entered into the agreement, which requires it to pay $1,449 to the Department of Consumer Protection for its complaint resolution, education and enforcement programs. In addition, Connecticut Avenue Shell agrees to comply with the letter of Connecticut’s anti-profiteering law, which protects consumers from improper price increases during emergencies and disasters.
“Connecticut will not tolerate unfair pricing from those who would take advantage of the misfortunes of others in times of disaster,” Rubenstein said. “Furthermore, would-be profiteers will not profit from their actions; the monetary payment in this case is triple the amount of the excess profit extracted by the price increase.”