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Richmond gas station settles following price gouging investigation during gas shortage

Hand holding gasoline nozzle for car refueling at gas station
Hand holding gasoline nozzle for car refueling at gas station(WRDW)
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 4:31 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A Richmond-based gas station has agreed to settle following an investigation into alleged price gouging during the Colonial Pipeline emergency.

The agreement is in connection to allegations that the 7 Heaven BP on Williamsburg Road in Richmond charged “unconscionable prices on gasoline, a necessary good, after Governor Northam declared a state of emergency.” The state of emergency was in response to the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said this is the third enforcement action taken regarding price gouging during the pipeline shutdown.

“It’s unfortunate that bad actors will take advantage of emergencies, natural disasters, or other times of crisis just to line their own pockets,” said Herring. “My Consumer Protection Section has been committed to pursuing and investigating allegations of possible price gouging, and we will continue to take action against those businesses that have preyed on consumers and overcharged during an emergency. Virginians should never have to worry about paying too much for gas and other necessary goods during a crisis when they are focused on taking care of themselves and their families.”

Herring’s complaint alleged that during the days before the state of emergency was declared; the station was charging $2.649 per gallon for regular unleaded fuel, $3.199 per gallon for plus fuel, and $3.549 per gallon for premium unleaded fuel.

“Then, in the evening of May 11, immediately after the state of emergency was declared, the business elevated its prices on all grades of gallons of gasoline several times – eventually topping out at $6.99 per gallon on regular and premium gasoline. A violation of Virginia’s price gouging law is also a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act,” a release said.

Under the settlement terms, 7 Heaven BP agreed to not price gouge again, pay $2,000 in attorneys’ fees and give $2,858.70 in refunds to 152 consumers through credit card reimbursements and direct cash refunds.

The release said anyone who paid for gas at 7 Heaven BP on May 11 and did not receive a refund should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section. The complaints need to be submitted before Feb. 22, 2022.

The settlement has been submitted to the Richmond City Circuit Court for approval.

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