AG Schneiderman investigates price gouging as gas shortage continues


| brennison@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Maggie Hayes
THE COURIER/Maggie Hayes

Gas rationing in New York City will end tomorrow, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.

Drivers searching endlessly for a station to fill up now face a new problem — price gouging.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an investigation into complaints of price gouging at gas stations, but also for emergency supplies like generators, hotels, food and water.

“Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging,” said Schneiderman. “We are actively investigating hundreds of complaints we’ve received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy, and will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives.”

Gas remains scarce more than a week after Sandy left the area. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that 38 percent of gas stations in the New York metropolitan area do not have fuel.

Prices at the pump in New York City are up 15 cents over the past week, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. Nationwide prices are dropped five cents over the last seven days.

Under New York state business law merchants are prohibited from taking advantage of consumers during an “”abnormal disruption of the market” by hiking prices to an “unconscionably excessive price.”

While “unconscionably excessive price” is not specifically defined, the attorney general’s office said a before and after analysis of prices can be used as evidence.

According to the New York Post, Schneiderman also issued a subpoena to Craig’s List demanding the web site identify users who are offering gas for more than $20 a gallon.

If residents would like to make a complaint regarding price gouging, they can call 800-771-7755 or click here.