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Are rising gas prices seen in NC as price gouging?

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Gas prices are a major concern for many as oil prices continue to soar.

As gas prices continue to soar, some are concerned about price gouging, so CBS 17 consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia brought those concerns to the state’s top law enforcement official.

It is quite difficult to keep track of petrol prices as they increase daily and sometimes hourly.

But are these rapid price increases seen as price gouging?

Depends on.

As of Thursday at a Raleigh gas station, a gallon of regular gasoline was selling for $3.59 a gallon.

On Friday morning we saw a 40 cent increase at the same station, with a regular gallon now costing $3.99.

“Everything is high at this point, so I expect prices to stay where they are,” said motorist Victoria Waterman.

Sometimes gas prices change for no apparent reason, like at a Raleigh gas station on Capital Boulevard, Sbraccia witnessed during a live report Thursday.

When CBS 17 arrived at 4 p.m. Thursday, the station sign said the price was a regular $4.19 a gallon.

After Sbraccia drew attention to this in his live report, the course suddenly changed. A few minutes later, the price dropped 30 cents to $3.89 a gallon.

For now, the state remains under Executive Order No. 116, the COVID-19 Emergency Law.

Any state of emergency allows the Attorney General to launch investigations into price gouging.

“We’re getting a number of complaints about gas prices,” Attorney General Josh Stein said.

Sbraccia asked Waterman what she considered price gouging.

“At this point, I would say $4.50,” she said.

Stein said it depends on how the $4.50 price was reached.

“If gas station costs have increased, the gas station can increase its prices,” he said.

Motorist Dan Heacox said he is considering lowering the price of gas if the station is “trying to make the most money”.

Stein said if a station raises the price of gas, it must be considered reasonable.

“If it’s unreasonably excessive under state law, that’s when price gouging happens,” he said.

Stein said there is no set percentage or standard cost increase when it comes to price gouging. It all depends on how the price came about.

If you think you’re being kidnapped, file a complaint with the attorney general’s office and their investigators will determine if price gouging is involved. If so, they will take action.

Stein said don’t expect immediate results. He said price gouging investigations were needed to solve them.

Sometimes it takes quite a while to build and follow a case.

For example, he said his office recently resolved some complaints about price cuts at gas stations due to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown last May.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/investigators/are-surging-gas-prices-considered-price-gouging-in-nc/ Are rising gas prices seen in NC as price gouging?

DUSTIN JONES

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