Herring holds gas station accountable for price gouging

gas prices
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Henrico-based Saly Inc. d/b/a RIR Mart Exxon, will be held accountable for alleged violations of the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act.

The settlement relates to allegations that the gas station charged unconscionable prices on gasoline, a necessary good, after a state of emergency was declared on May 11 in response to temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies motor fuels and other petroleum-based products to a large portion of the east coast.

Attorney General Mark Herring has taken one other enforcement action regarding price gouging following the Colonial Pipeline state of emergency declaration, in addition to two enforcement actions against price gouging this year in relation to the state of emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, bad actors will take advantage of natural disasters or other times of crisis and increase prices on necessary goods just to line their own pockets,” Herring said. “Virginians should never have to worry about whether they are paying a fair price for something they need, but especially during a state of emergency. My Consumer Protection Section and I will continue to pursue instances of price gouging in Virginia and hold those who take advantage of consumers accountable.”

Herring’s complaint alleges that, on May 9 and 10, the gas station was charging $3.49 per gallon for premium unleaded fuel. Then, in the evening of May 11, immediately after the state of emergency was declared, the business elevated its prices to $4.499 per gallon, an increase of nearly 29 percent.

A violation of Virginia’s price gouging law is also a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Under the terms of the settlement, RIR Mart Exxon agrees to be enjoined from engaging in further violations of Virginia’s price gouging law and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The business also has agreed to pay $2,500 in civil penalties and attorneys’ fees, and also has disgorged more than $300 in excess profits made from the offending sales.

Consumers who purchased premium unleaded gasoline from RIR Mart Exxon on May 11, 2021 should file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Section to be considered for reimbursement of excess charges they paid.

The settlement, in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, has been filed for approval with the Henrico County Circuit Court.

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