RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The state Attorney General’s office has now received about 1,145 complaints about price gouging, and Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office has issued subpoenas to three more gas stations, including one in Smithfield, officials said Tuesday.
Consumers told the Attorney General’s Office that all three stations charged $3.99 or more per gallon of gas, the state Department of Justice said. Officials did not immediately identify which gas station in Smithfield has been issued the subpoena.
“A supply crunch shouldn’t be an excuse to rip off people who need gas,” Cooper said in a news release. “We’re following up on consumers’ reports and taking action to investigate possible price gouging.”
Cooper’s office has now issued a total of five subpoenas as part of its investigation of possible price gouging during the current fuel shortage. Officials expect more subpoenas later this week.
Gas stations receiving subpoenas are required to respond to the allegations of price gouging, including providing the Attorney General’s office with information on the cost the gas stations paid to their suppliers.
Of the 1,145 reports, at least 184 are from the Triangle, 38 are from the Asheville area, 45 are from the Charlotte area, 40 are from the Greenville area, 279 are from the Triad and 19 are from the Wilmington area.
“Reports from consumers on the ground are vital to enforcing the law against price gouging, so let us know if you see excessive gas prices,” Cooper said.
State law doesn’t provide a concrete price increase or percent price increase that constitutes price gouging. Instead, it outlaws charging a price that is “unreasonably excessive under the circumstances.”
Consumers can report possible gas price gouging to the Attorney General’s Office by filing a consumer complaint at http://www.ncdoj.gov or calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
“Most businesses do right by their customers, but unfortunately some bad apples may take advantage of a crisis to gouge people,” Cooper said. “If our investigation uncovers violations, my office won’t hesitate to take legal action.”