Gas Price Gouging Concerns

Price gouging might not be the most insidious activity as some try to fleece the motoring public. As gas prices soar, the phones at state consumer protection hotlines have been ringing off the hook with complaints over price gouging

The state has now taken more price gouging complaints since January than it did all of last year.

The Florida attorney general's office says a Tallahassee area gas station was at$2.99 Thursday night, went to $3.49 Friday morning, then dropped the price 50 cents after being visited by an investigator.

We asked owner Oswell Maxwell, who denied price gouging and blamed the station across the street.

Oswell says, “That’s a bunch of bull.”

“So this guy across the street was at $3.49?”

“He was at $3.49, but I never went up to it. They said, ‘why don’t you go?’ Because I didn’t want to cheat the folks."

But over there, manager Jay Patell says he’s never been above $2.99.

Jay says, “Now I am getting cheaper, so I am trying to give the customer cheaper price.”

Attorney General Charlie Crist says his investigators have uncovered what he thinks is outright fraud.

“Some stations apparently were bagging the cheapest fuel. The regular unleaded if you will, which sort of forced people to buy the more expensive grade."

If true, stations could face up to a $10,000 fine.

To report price gouging in Florida, call 1-866-966-7226, and in Georgia you can call 1-800-869-1123. An industry spokesman said spot shortages and high prices are expected to continue for at least the next two weeks.