Posted in: Gas Prices,
by Patrick DeHaan on Jun 13, 2013 01:20 PM
As Michigan drivers deal with a spike in gas prices, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today warned retailers against any attempt to take advantage of consumers by price gouging or price fixing.
"Michigan consumers are struggling with rising costs just as summer vacations are getting underway, making it hard on family budgets," said Schuette. "We will not tolerate unscrupulous behavior that violates Michigan law when it comes to gouging and price fixing. Gas retailers are warned: we are watching and will not hesitate to take action if you hurt consumers and break Michigan law."
Every day, year-around, the Michigan Attorney General's Office's professional legal team monitors the balance of wholesale and retail prices and profit margins in regions around Michigan. Additionally, the office takes in complaints about individual stations directly into its Consumer Protection Division. The office investigates any time there is evidence that state law has been violated for gouging or price fixing.
Under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, a retailer may not charge a price that is "grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold." Anti-trust laws also prohibit gas stations from entering into agreements to arbitrarily fix prices in unison.
For example, a little over a year ago, Schuette secured convictions for gasoline price-fixing by five Michigan station owners. The Department has also entered into "compliance-agreements" with stations requiring them to submit to monitoring after they spiked prices well above the state-wide norm on a particular day or after a weather event.
Schuette is committed to continuing to fight against higher gasoline prices in court when the price increases violate the law.
If consumers become aware of direct evidence of a conspiracy between companies, or have verifiable evidence of a retailer charging a price "grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold," they are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-765-8388 or file an online complaint at www.michigan.gov/ag.