“It’s okay to make a profit, but it’s not right to run up the costs on consumers at a time like this,” said Cooper in a news release. “Our price gouging law is in effect, and we’re moving quickly to enforce the law.”
Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division issued the latest round of subpoenas demanding information from gas stations in Buncombe, Craven, Cumberland, Guilford, Iredell, McDowell, Montgomery and Yadkin counties, including Ricky's One Stop, on Davie Avenue in Statesville. The stations reportedly charged consumers more than $5.35 and as much as $5.99 per gallon for gas.
The subpoenas went out to Sheriffs’ Offices to be served on the gas stations’ owners. Retailers have 10 days to provide documentation to the Attorney General’s Office including information on their costs. “We’re investigating these cases carefully and we’ll take legal action if we find evidence that any retailer, distributor or wholesaler has gouged consumers,” Cooper said.
Price gouging—or charging unreasonably excessive prices in times of crisis—violates North Carolina General Statute 75-38, when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the Governor. On Friday, North Carolina’s law against price gouging was triggered by the declaration of an abnormal market disruption due to Hurricane Ike.