Gov. Youngkin Continues To Ignore Repeated Calls From Democratic Leadership To Address Price Gouging
Richmond, VA – A recent article by the Loudoun Times found thatWest End Motors reached a settlement with Attorney General Miyares for price gouging gasoline. This comes after Governor Youngkin continues to ignore repeated calls from Democratic leaders to investigate bad actors using the Russian invasion of Ukraine to raise their prices at the pump.
It’s clear that even the Governor’s Attorney General believes investigating price gouging at the pump is the best course of action to protect consumers and lower gas prices. In the article Attorney GeneralMiyares said:
“Virginia law protects consumers from businesses increasing prices on necessary goods and services during a time of crisis. I am pleased that my office reached an agreement that will make restitution dollars available for affected consumers. The Consumer Protection Section at the Office of the Attorney General will continue to fight for consumer rights and investigate complaints of alleged price gouging during states of emergency in the commonwealth.”
Read the full article below:
Lovettsville-based Wheeler & Wheeler Inc., doing business as West End Motors, agreed to pay more than $6,000 to reimburse consumers for excess charges they paid last year, the Virginia Office of Attorney General announced on April 6.
Wheeler & Wheeler agreed to the settlement for allegedly making significant price increases on gasoline, a necessary good, after a state of emergency was declared on May 11, 2021 in response to the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the announcement states. The Colonial Pipeline supplies gas to many east coast states.
“Virginia law protects consumers from businesses increasing prices on necessary goods and services during a time of crisis,” said Attorney General Miyares in a prepared statement.
“I am pleased that my office reached an agreement that will make restitution dollars available for affected consumers,” he said. “The Consumer Protection Section at the Office of the Attorney General will continue to fight for consumer rights and investigate complaints of alleged price gouging during states of emergency in the commonwealth.”
The attorney general’s complaint alleges that, during the period from May 11 to 14, 2021, West End Motors significantly raised the prices of all three grades of gasoline, according to the announcement.
On those days, the gas station charged average prices of as much as $3.51 for regular unleaded gasoline, $3.799 for plus (midgrade) gasoline, and $3.999 for premium gasoline, the announcement states. Those highest levels represented, respectively, 23.78%, 20.58%, and 22.22% increases over what the gas station was charging during the ten days immediately preceding the declaration of the state of emergency. Because those prices are averages, the Attorney General alleged that the prices charged may have climbed even higher during that period.
Miyares further alleged that the increases were not attributable to additional costs incurred by the business in connection with the sale of the gasoline, the release states. A violation of Virginia’s price gouging law is also a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Under the terms of the settlement, West End Motors agrees to stop any further violations of Virginia’s price gouging law and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, according to the release. The business also has agreed to pay $6,567.53 in restitution for affected consumers and will pay the commonwealth $1,250 in civil penalties and $1,250 in attorneys’ fees.
Consumers can file complaints with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section to receive consideration for reimbursement if they purchased gasoline from the station on May 11, 12 or 14.
The settlement, in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, has been filed for approval with the Loudoun County Circuit Court.
If a Virginia consumer suspects they are a victim of price gouging during a declared state of emergency, they can call the Consumer Protection Hotline or download a complaint form from the Attorney General’s website and submit it by mail, by fax, or in-person, the announcement states.
Consumers are encouraged to keep any relevant documentation and submit copies with their complaint. If consumers believe they are a victim of price gouging specific to motor fuel they should file complaints with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.