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As Fuel Prices Soar, State Seeks to Brake Gougers

Public Urged to Report Suspect Stations

With gas prices skyrocketing, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he has directed the New York Department of State and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to work together to ensure consumers are protected against potential unfair practices at gasoline pumps.

In response, the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection has launched a toll-free hotline and website for New Yorkers to report suspected price gouging at gas stations.

“As gas prices continue to climb across the nation, it is our responsibility to ensure that New Yorkers are not getting taken advantage of at the gas pumps,” Cuomo said. “While market forces are usually the cause of these price increases, we taking action to protect consumers from any unfair and illegal practices during this time.”

New Yorkers can now report sudden and unexpected increases in retail gas prices by calling the gas pricing hotline at 1-800-214-4372.

In addition, the Division of Consumer Protection has also created an online consumer complaint form, where New Yorkers can report suspected price gouging or concerns about improper delivery of quantity. In addition, the website includes tips to help consumers save money at the gas pump.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint can visit www.dos.ny.gov/ consumerprotection/consumer_ resources/ gas_ gouging.html.

“If anyone suspects that a gas station may be artificially raising their prices or shorting the quantity of gas paid for, call the gas price hotline and report it,” said Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “Getting real time information is critical to putting a stop to this despicable practice.”

Under the governor’s direction, using a combination of state and local officials, the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Bureau of Weights and Measures will work with municipalities to inspect gas stations across the state to assure measurement accuracy, promote a fair and equitable marketplace, and ensure the quality of petroleum-based products.

The bureau will also be contacting local Weights and Measures officials to make them aware of the new website and hotline.

State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, “We fully support the Governor’s efforts to provide a resource for consumers to reg- ister complaints that will help avoid unfair pricing at the pumps. As an agency, we are committed to do our part in this process by ensuring that consumers and businesses are receiving the quality and quantity of petroleum products they paid for.”

Across the country, retail gasoline prices have increased over the past several weeks. These price increases are also coming at a time when inventories are recovering from seasonal lows.

From Jan. 2 through Feb. 15, Brent crude prices increased $4.56 per barrel, or four percent, and New York State average retail regular gasoline prices have increased 21 cents per gallon, or 5.6 percent, suggesting that much of the increase in prices is due to crude oil price increases.

Between Feb. 15 and Feb. 20, the national average retail gasoline price spiked nearly 13 cents per gallon, or 3.5 percent, whereas New York gasoline prices have increased at a relatively lower rate of five cents per gallon, or 1.3 percent.

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