New York Investigates Gas Stations for Price Gouging

NEW YORK -- Gas problems caused by Superstorm Sandy are beginning to ease for motorists in New York City and the surrounding areas, by they are just beginning for several gas station operators.

On the positive side, odd-even gas rationing on Long Island will be a thing of the past come midnight. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the restrictions for Long Island will end at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, according to the New York Post.

However, motorists in the five boroughs of New York City are not as lucky. The same odd-even restrictions were set to expire in the five boroughs at 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19 but Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated on his weekly WOR radio show that gas rationing in the city might be extended through next Friday, the newspaper reported.

"Some people say Thanksgiving is coming up," Bloomberg said. "A lot of people drive and fill up their cars. Maybe we should have it go another week. I'm going to think about that today."

Motorists are not the only ones facing issues. New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has notified 13 gas station operators in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County of his intention to begin enforcement proceedings against them for violations of the New York State Price Gouging statute.

Those investigations could just be the beginning. The attorney general's office has reportedly received hundreds of complaints from consumers across New York State in the wake of the late-October storm.

"Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging and we are taking action to send a message that ripping off New Yorkers is against the law," Schneiderman said. "Today's action is the first in a series of steps my office will take as we continue to actively investigate the hundreds of complaints we've received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy. We will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives."

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." The price gouging law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers, including but not limited to supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, bodegas, delis, and taxi and livery cab drivers.

Of the 13 gas stations to receive notifications, four are on Long Island, three are in Westchester County and six are in New York City.

"These 13 retailers stand out from others in the high prices they have charged and in the size of their price increases," Schneiderman said. He added that other notifications will follow this initial round as his office continues to investigate the complaints it has received.

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