AG's office investigating price gouging complaints

Wednesday, September 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Attorney General's office is still getting complaints about price gouging at the gas pumps last week. News on Six reporter Diane White has the latest on what could happen next.

Long lines at gas stations, a sight many motorists witnessed last Tuesday after rumors spread that gas prices would soon rise. "On the way back home I noticed that they were going up and one filling station had gone up to a $1.99." "I heard speculation, people in Muskogee paying $4 to $5." KOTV saw the Naifeh's station at Apache and Cincinnati raise prices last Tuesday, $1.99 for regular unleaded, $2.79 for premium.

The price is now down to a $1.49 for regular unleaded. Diane White called the owner to find out why he raised prices last Tuesday. Moe Kasim wouldn't talk on camera but told us he panicked and overreacted after his supplier told him a pipeline could shut down and prices could go up. The supplier was Arkansas Valley Petroleum. Representative Keith Sorrell told us: "I did not tell him that anything was shutting down. That was one of the rumors going on." He says he told retailers that he had "no confirmation that any pipeline is shutting down." He was hearing that some unbranded suppliers were raising prices; the name brand companies were NOT.

Leslie Selig with the Attorney General's office says, "So far we've had about 2,200 calls regarding the price gouging." And calls are still coming in to the State Attorney General's Office. But many price hikes only lasted a few hours. Which could make it tricky for the Attorney General to prosecute. The state's price gouging law doesn't go into effect until the Governor or President declares a state of emergency, which didn't happen until Friday. Selig, "But that doesn't mean that we are going to discontinue trying to figure out who was involved and that type of situation."

The Attorney General is still collecting complaints so it could take a few weeks before it makes a decision. The owner of Naifeh's Quik Stop says he'll provide refunds to customers who have a receipt.