Two Ga. Stations Agree to Gouging Settlements

Will repay customers

ATLANTA -- Two Bethlehem, Ga., convenience stores have been penalized by the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs for overcharging customers on fuel prices last summer during a gasoline shortage caused by Hurricane Katrina, reported the Athens Banner-Herald.

The settlements involved three corporate entities, two of them representing the same station, Bill Cloud, spokesperson for the consumer affairs office, told the newspaper. MIR Enterprises and M&I Enterprises, both doing business as Shell Food Mart, and KR&R LLC, doing business as the Shell [image-nocss] Convenience Store, signed agreements with the consumer affairs agency, Cloud said.

Shell Food Mart's two parent corporations were fined $1,000 each and agreed to repay customers who have receipts for the purchases between 5:45 p.m. August 31 and the close of business September 28. The period to obtain restitution runs through Jan. 15, 2006.

The Shell Convenience Store did not have to pay a fine, but did agree to offer reimbursement to customers. The reimbursement period ended December 12.

The Shell Food Mart has to repay customers the difference between a base price set by the consumer affairs office and the price they actually paid for the gas during the month-long period, Cloud said. A customer must have a receipt for the period to get reimbursed.

The base prices for the Shell Food Mart are set at $2.699 for self-service regular unleaded; $2.799 for self-service premium unleaded; and $2.899 for self-service diesel.

Cloud said the station must put up a sign in plain view for customers and explain the reimbursement policy, then send the consumer affairs office a list of names of the people who bring in receipts.

Earlier this month, Barnett Shoals Chevron, 2285 Barnett Shoals Road in Athens, agreed to a $4,000 fine and to reimburse customers under a similar settlement with the consumer affairs office, said the report.

Cloud said the agreements do not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the gasoline retailer. He said his office is expecting a settlement with another Athens station within the next week.

At least 17 retailers across the state already have settled with the consumer affairs office, the report said. Settlements can include fines up to $10,000, it added.

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