State receives dozens of gas price gouging complaints

State receives dozens of gouging complaints

As Georgia's gas shortage continues, the state's price gouging law remains in effect.  It's had an impact on keeping low prices -- and a low gas supply.

After some initial reports of sky-high gas prices over the weekend, prices have largely remained level. That's largedly because gas stations statewide have received notice of a notice from Gov. Nathan Deal.

The notice "advises (stations that) Georgia's precise gouging statute" is in effect. A station may not sell gas for higher than it did before Deal declared a state of emergency. If they do, they risk a $2,000 to $5,000 fine.

As of Tuesday morning, the state has received 81 complaints about price gouging. That pales in comparison to the 2,000+ complaints during the gas crisis in 2008.

The heat map below shows the various stations that were found to have gouged. That was just a few months into the state's investigations. Each station had to pay restitution and up to $5,000.

That may not seem like a lot of money for a big business, but it makes a difference for the individual gas station owners.

Angel Patel, the manager of the Bouldercrest Shell Station in Ellenwood, said a shortage like this is a lose-lose for the station. They'd lose money and violate the law if they raise prices; they're losing money regardless by running out of fuel.

"The first thing is the customer has to be happy, and they're not happy about it,” Patel said. “They're taking their frustration out on us. There's so much going on, but nothing we can do, because we're handicapped too right now.”

One school of thought is that gas stations should be allowed to raise prices because it goes against our free market ideals to do otherwise.

Regardless, several gas station managers said they're expecting new shipments from Colonial Pipeline in the next few days. They'll simply be dry until then.


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