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Post-Sandy Price Gouging Costs East Hanover Gas Station $26K

C&M Exxon on Ridgedale Avenue increased prices more than 25 percent during the state of emergency.

An East Hanover gas station has been ordered to pay $26,000 for price gouging in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

East Hanover Amoco Inc., which operates the C&M Exxon station at 29 Ridgedale Ave., charged as much as $4.79 for credit card sales of regular gasoline—a 26.3 percent increase from the price prior to the state of emergency, the Attorney General's Office said Monday.

The company also charged $5.09 for credit card sales of premium gasoline, a 34.2 percent increase from before the state of emergency, the Attorney General's Office said.

East Hanover Amoco Inc. was ordered to pay $26,000, including $22,946 in civil penalties and $3,054 to reimburse the state's attorney and investigative costs.

Two South Jersey hotels also settled lawsuits with the state for price gouging, the Attorney General's Office said Monday.

“These hotels allegedly raised their room rates by well over 100 percent of their normal prices, and this gas station increased its prices in excess of 25 percent—all at a time when a natural disaster turned the normal laws of supply and demand upside down, New Jersey families were in dire need of shelter and fuel, and price gouging was expressly prohibited due to a state of emergency," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the state statute prohibits price increases more than 10 percent during a declared state of emergency for merchandise "used as a direct result of an emergency or used to protect the life, health, safety or comfort of persons or their property."

The Divisions of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Law have resolved 21 of the 27 lawsuits filed against businesses accused of price gouging during the Superstorm Sandy state of emergency. 

Including the three settlements announced Monday, the state will have obtained a total of $906,158.68 in civil penalties, consumer restitution and reimbursement of fees and investigative costs, as a result of the price gouging lawsuits, the Attorney General's Office said.

"New Jersey’s Superstorm Sandy price gougers need to learn that the penalties for violating the law will far outweigh any illicit gains from taking advantage of their fellow New Jerseyans," Acting Director Steve Lee of the Division of Consumer Affairs said.

"In these cases, we’re doing everything we can to bring full restitution to victims, and to deter any future attempts to take advantage of the suffering caused by a major disaster.”
Tim C crow May 13, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Wishful thinking, I am sure, but wouldn't it be nice for the financial recovery to be passed to the consumer? Maybe require that the gas station offer discounted fuel equal to the gouge?
Tim - wouldn't your suggestion unfairly hurt the competing gas stations that didn't gouge?
Tim C crow May 14, 2014 at 09:12 AM
26K? I think the market would absorb this temporary measure. Consider it the same as a retail store having a 'sale'.

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