Division of Consumer Affairs Prepared to Investigate Allegations of Gas Price Gouging

September 13, 2008
Dwayne Page

The effects of storm systems active in the Gulf Coast are now being felt by Tennesseans at the gas pump. Prices for fuel have risen dramatically and the State is offering consumers information on how they can report possible price-gouging.

Governor Bredesen Friday addressed the issues surrounding gasoline supply in Tennessee, warning individuals and businesses who engage in gasoline price-gouging that “we will be very tough and very aggressive on people who take advantage of this situation. I hope people do not try to capitalize on the effects of these storms at the expense of Tennesseans, who are already struggling with high gas prices.”

“We are taking this very seriously,” said Leslie Newman, Commissioner for the Department of Commerce and Insurance. “Under Tennessee law, price-gouging is illegal and we will be working with the Attorney General’s office to aggressively pursue anyone who violates that law.”

It was anticipated that gas prices would rise with hurricane activity in the Gulf Coast, where a substantial portion of the country’s gas supply is produced. The Division of Consumer Affairs warns consumers to be on the lookout for potential price-gougers.

Consumers may contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at www.tn.gov/consumer or call at 615-741-4737 or toll-free at 800-342-8385, to report incidences of suspected price-gouging. Consumers will need to provide the name of the gas station, address and the price and grade of the gas being sold. Consumers may also report suspected price-gouging online to the federal government at http://gaswatch.energy.gov/.

Meanwhile, Congressman Bart Gordon has issued a statement on dramatic rise in gas prices

"Throughout the day, already too expensive gasoline prices have been dramatically rising. I have contacted the Tennessee Attorney General and asked him to be especially vigilant in protecting consumers from price gouging.

To help maximize fuel supplies, I contacted the Environmental Protection Agency and asked them to grant the waiver requested by Governor Phil Bredesen to allow retailers to begin selling the fall blend of fuel before the September 15 start date.

After we get through this interruption in supply and increase in price, we need to use every tool available to alleviate the pain consumers are feeling at the pump. That includes maximizing our domestic oil and gas production and working on new energy technologies.

If anyone has specific complaints about fuel prices at an individual location, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Consumer Affairs is the appropriate agency to register their complaint. The public can call this 800-number: 1-800-342-8385 or visit the Consumer
Affairs Web site to make a complaint online at www.tn.gov/consumer."

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