Photo Courtesy of the Office of the State Attorney General
New York AG Eric Schneiderman also investigated price gouging and predatory companies in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
By Forum Staff
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Saturday 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.
“Experience has shown that some gas station owners use severe storms as an opportunity to exploit consumers,” Schneiderman said. “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.”
The attorney general noted that on the Thursday following 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, Schneiderman said.
The NY AG also pointed out that 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 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 vendors, retailers and suppliers.
Schneiderman has launched probes into price gouging and taken actions against predatory companies during his tenure. As a result of his investigation into high gas prices during Superstorm Sandy, Schneiderman secured over $300,000 in penalties and costs from more than 40 gas stations in the five boroughs, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley that gouged their customers.