Loudoun County gas station to pay restitution and penalties for price gouging

Watchful Eye

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West End Motors, a gas station based in Lovettsville, has agreed to a settlement for price gouging on gas after the Colonial Pipeline shut down last year, Virginia’s attorney general’s office announced in a media release.

As you may remember, in May 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies to gas to numerous states along the East Coast, shut down temporarily due to a cyberattack. Virginia was one of the states to declare a state of emergency.

According to a complaint filed by Attorney General Jason Miyares, from May 11 to 14, 2021 West End Motors significantly raised the prices of all three grades of gasoline.

“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. 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,” the media release noted.

And it added that “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.”

In Virginia, price gouging law is a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. “Virginia law protects consumers from businesses increasing prices on necessary goods and services during a time of crisis,” Miyares said in the press release. “I am pleased that my office reached an agreement that will make restitution dollars available for affected consumers,” he added.

That agreement includes West End Motors paying $6,567 in restitution for affected consumers plus $1,250 in civil penalties and $1,250 in attorneys’ fees, Miyares’ office announced in the release.

Consumers who purchased gas from West End Motors on May 11, 12 or 14 of 2021 are advised to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section to receive consideration for reimbursement.

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