QuikTrip Faces Federal Antitrust Complaint Over Alleged Price War
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- A group of independent gas station owners has filed a federal antitrust complaint against QuikTrip. The Association of Independent Gas Station Owners and three of its members allege that the Tulsa, Okla.-based chain has violated the Sherman Act, the Robinson-Patman Act, and the Motor Fuel Marketing Act, according to the Courthouse News Service.
"On or about July 1, 2011 and continuing to this day, defendant QuikTrip began and has engaged in a price war with plaintiffs and other gas station owners in the St. Louis metropolitan area, with QuikTrip posting reduced pricing changes for its gasoline on almost a daily basis, and at times changing its posted gasoline prices several times in the course of a day," the complaint stated.
The group, represented by Eric Vickers, labeled QuikTrip's fuel pricing as "predatory" and believes that "based on information and belief, QuikTrip has been pricing its gasoline for customers at a price lower than QuikTrip's costs."
As a result of these pricing practices, the independent gas stations were forced to lower their own fuel prices in order to remain competitive, they said. The complaint also states that QuikTrip has a history of such abnormally low prices and that the company admitted to Missouri's attorney general in 2004 that it had been selling fuel at below cost.
"The predatory price war engaged in by QuikTrip has caused injury to competition in the retail sale of gasoline in the St. Louis marketplace, which will ultimately cause harm to consumers in the form of higher gasoline prices dictated by QuikTrip," the complaint continued.
The group is asking for QuikTrip to be barred from selling fuel below cost and seeking damages of more than $50 million.
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said yesterday that the company is unaware of the complaint, according to the report. The chain currently operates more than 580 convenience stores across 10 states.