Minn. Minimum

Three stations fined for allegedly selling cheap gas

MINNEAPOLIS-- Three Minnesota gas stations have been fined the past few weeks for selling their gas too cheaply, reported KARE11-TV.

The stations violated the state's minimum markup law, requiring them to sell gasoline for at least eight cents per gallon more than they paid for it, according to the report.

The law was passed four years ago to protect small stations against predatory pricing by big retailers such as Wal-Mart and Cost. Legislation is now pending that would repeal the minimum markup law.

The [image-nocss] lawmaker who sponsors the bill says consumers would benefit from increased price competition. It is a question that station owners do not agree on, the report said.

All three of the stations fined so far this year are smaller operations. The Gas & More station in Blaine was fined $7,500, said the report. Amy Shanaa, who runs the two-pump operation with her husband Ali, expressed frustration with a law that she said hurts competition.

Shanaa told the news outlet that, as a small, independent operator, she needs the ability to keep her prices low to compete with chains like Holiday and SuperAmerica. That's sort of our advertising, is having a lower price, she told KARE11.

But Ted Brausen, who runs a Shell station in Roseville, said the law is a necessary protection against big-box retailers that add gasoline pumps to their operations. He said consumers may love a gas war today, But what about tomorrow when all you have is those big boxes?

In addition to the $7,500-fine levied against Gas & More, the Jackson Stop station in Elk River was fined $500, and the SuperUSA station in Bloomington was fined $1,500, said the report.