Attorney General Hardy Myers today urged Oregon citizens to not fall prey to unconscionable gasoline sales tactics in the wake of yesterday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
"Profiteering on the misery of others is unconscionable," Myers said. "We have opened an investigation and are closely scrutinizing complaints of exorbitant prices on necessary goods such as gasoline."
"Dealers charging excessive and unjustified prices for gasoline with consumers having little choice but to purchase will not be tolerated," Myers said.
Within hours of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., the Attorney General's consumer hotline was jammed with calls from residents of Marion and Polk Counties, complaining about the huge increases in gasoline prices. The calls continue today but are now being received from all parts of the state. Consumers have reported gasoline prices increasing hourly with gains of up to 25 cents a gallon.
Following past disasters such as the 1996 floods in Oregon, some merchants took advantage of the situation and dramatically increased the price of essential goods such as food and gasoline.
During the past two legislative sessions, both Attorney General Myers and State Representative Vicki Walker, D-Eugene and State Senator Peter Courtney, D-Salem, supported "price gouging" legislation only to have the bills defeated from lack of support. Oregon law currently permits merchants to increase prices in response to supply and demand but does not address "gouging."
"We are asking citizens buying gasoline to quickly report any incidents of large price increases at the pump or circumstances where the only gasoline available was the highest priced premium," Myers said.
Consumers may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. The Department of Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Kristen Grainger, (503) 378-6002 (media line only)