Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that civil investigative demands (CIDs) have been served on gas station owners throughout the state. These actions follow an investigation of possible gasoline price gouging in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
"Within hours of the horrific terrorist attacks on the East Coast, our consumer hotline became jammed with consumer calls reporting sharp, unreasonable increases in gasoline prices," Myers said. "We will not tolerate unconscionable profiteering during this national emergency."
The Department of Justice has received more than 1,000 calls concerning price "spikes" at gasoline stations ranging from a reported high of $4.29 per gallon in Jefferson County to 30 and 40 cent a gallon increases in Coastal, Southern and Central Oregon counties. Investigators have served CIDs on gasoline dealers in Brookings, Gold Beach, Coquille, Grants Pass, Bandon, Bend, Sisters and Redmond. Additional CIDs are expected to be issued in the near future.
"These fact-intensive investigations are the beginning of a process to determine if what has been reported by consumers is indeed price gouging," Myers said. "We must separate what would be considered a legitimate flux in the marketplace from opportunistic activities of unscrupulous dealers charging excessive and unjustified gasoline prices."
The Oregon Department of Justice, in communicating with consumer protection offices throughout the United States, has found that all states including the District of Columbia have reported gasoline price increases but not all excessive. Eighteen states have anti-price gouging statutes with 16 triggered by a declaration of a State of Emergency or Natural Disaster. Oregon does not have a price gouging law.
Attorney General Myers asks citizens to report any gasoline prices of over $2 per gallon for regular unleaded or misleading explanations for price hikes such as "a government freeze on gasoline supplies." A consumer reported that one dealer said the prices were "shooting up to $6 per gallon and customers better buy now!"
Oregonians may report gasoline price information by calling 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. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) email@example.com
Kristen Grainger, (503) 378-6002 (media line only)