Judging by inspections made and citations written, a significant number of New Jersey Gas stations took advantage of fuel spikes caused by Hurricane Katrina, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey said.
Codey said the Division of Consumer Affairs' Office of Weights and Measures and Office of Consumer Protection personnel visited approximately 400 gas stations during the past week, finding more than 100 violations of state regulations. Codey ordered the inspections last week amid concerns of price gouging.
I have no tolerance for opportunists who try to make money during this national crisis, Codey said.
Motorists are struggling with higher gas prices and we will seek the maximum penalties against those who violate State laws designed to protect consumers. The public should continue to call either the state or their local Office of Weights and Measures and report their concerns.
The most common violation was prices being raised more than once every 24 hours. Other common violations include the gas price setting on a pump differing from the posted price and unregistered gas pumps.
State personnel worked the entire Labor Day weekend, taking complaints from the public and inspecting gas stations. The number of stations, number of personnel executing inspections and the number of violations found are not yet available.
We will continue to monitor gas stations, investigate complaints and act against those who are found to be violating the law, Attorney General Peter C. Harvey said.
Consumer Affairs Director Kimberly Ricketts noted that the per-barrel price of oil, which rose to over $70 last week immediately following Hurricane Katrina, quickly fell to below $67.
Weve heard that the sharp rise in gas prices last week resulted from the rise in oil prices, Ricketts said. I expect, as do motorists, that there will be a corresponding drop in gas prices now that oil prices are falling. My message to the oil companies is that the elevator doesnt only go up. It had better go down, too.