About 200 complaints filed in 2 months on CT gas prices

Despite the widespread reduction in gas prices after the start of Connecticut’s three-month gas tax holiday, drivers across the state remain frustrated with the costs – especially those over 4 $ a gallon – and they make sure officials like Attorney General William Tong know about it.

A total of 200 consumer complaints related to gasoline prices have been filed with Tong’s office in the past two months, including numerous examples of residents asking the state to investigate gas stations for price gouging or refusing to lower prices after the suspension of the 25-cent sales tax on April. 1.

While about 30 complaints focused on specific allegations that stations continued to collect gas tax, the majority expressed more general frustrations with gas prices.

“Gas prices haven’t come down and that’s ridiculous,” a resident wrote in Tong on April 4. “Please check this. Owners are scam artists and are killing our pockets.

Elizabeth Benton, a spokeswoman for Tong’s office, said Friday it was still too early to tell whether any retailers had violated consumer protection laws. The attorney general’s office sent letters to 101 retailers asking for more information in response to the complaints. The office received 65 responses with 41 files closed and 24 under review.

The complaints target stations across the state, with some expressing frustration over issues unrelated to the repeal of the tax.

A driver who drove to a station on Marion Avenue in the Plantsville section of Southington around 2:30 p.m. on March 30 said he paid $4.09 a gallon to fill up her husband’s truck. When the driver returned around 8:30 p.m. to refuel, the price was $4.24 a gallon.

“I don’t understand how they can do that,” the plaintiff said. “I went to ask how they could go so high, but got nowhere.”

Retailers base their prices on a number of factors, including product cost, profit margins, cost of credit card fees and competition, said Michael J. Fox, executive director of Gasoline and Automotive Service Dealers of America. Prices may also change once a retailer receives a new delivery, he said.

On Friday, wholesale gasoline prices hit their highest level this year, but retail prices were still below their 2022 all-time high. Crocs !” Fox said in an email Friday.

One person, who wrote to Tong’s office, accused all gas stations in the state of “price gouging, corporate greed” in a March 7 complaint.

The AG’s office received a wave of grievances in early March when pump prices neared record highs with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the time, Tong said “abnormal market disruption” due to rapidly rising wholesale gasoline prices, and urged consumers to warn him of “anyone charging excessive gasoline prices.” ‘essence”.

In some cases, consumers complained that prices in their area were higher than in surrounding towns. A driver who drove to a station on West Street in Litchfield at 1 p.m. on April 1, the day the repeal took effect, said the price of regular gasoline was $4.44 a gallon. At nearby Washington and Torrington stations, the price was $3.79 a gallon.

Fox said “zone pricing” is a common industry practice in which suppliers charge different prices for the same gasoline depending on where it’s sold. “As an association, we have proven by showing invoices for the exact same brand of gasoline on the exact same day, delivery to two different locations for up to $0.50 per gallon more,” he said. he declares.

About a month after declaring a market disruption, Tong again asked customers to report suspected price abuse after state lawmakers passed the gasoline tax exemption in hopes that stations would lower their prices by a quarter.

“It’s important to remember that prices at the pump will continue to fluctuate with changes in wholesale prices,” Tong said in a statement late last month. “Not all gasoline price increases or decreases are related to the $0.25 tax or constitute price gouging. Each complaint will be investigated and all facts will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Several residents who filed complaints with Tong’s office said they confronted gas station owners and employees about their prices after the tax holiday began.

“When [I] asked the clerk about the gas tax suspension, he looked at me like I had 2 heads. He said he didn’t know anything [about] this.” wrote a customer who said he filled up for $4.32 a gallon in Stonington on April 6, after returning from Florida.

Others seemed to vent their longstanding frustrations with particular stations in their area.

“This station is still one of the most expensive stations in the area and clearly operates out of greed despite the $0.25 fuel tax cut in this state,” a driver wrote of a station on the Iranistan Avenue in Bridgeport.

The complaint was accompanied by a photo of the station advertising $4.59 a gallon of regular gas with a credit card nearly a week after the gas tax exemption began.

The gasoline tax exemption will continue until July 1.

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