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NJ AG files suits alleging storm price gouging

Associated Press Modified: November 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012

Attempts to reach the gas stations were unsuccessful, except for the BP station in Perth Amboy, where a woman who answered the phone declined comment.

At a seventh station charged, a Clifton Gulf station called C.S. George & Sons Inc., the owner said accusations that he had engaged in price gouging by raising regular gas prices to $4.69 per gallon — an increase of 34 percent — were inaccurate. Station owner John George said the business that's been in his family for 52 years had gone to great lengths to help residents during the storm.

George said he had to add 20 extra workers to his rolls, extend his normal 12-hour days to operate 24-7, feed his staff breakfast, lunch and dinner to keep the station open around-the-clock, and incur additional expenses, from the electricity required to keep the station open, to having to buy gas from a distributor in Massachusetts when it was unavailable in New Jersey. He said the 52 consumers who filed price gouging complaints against his station were out of more than 15,000 customers he estimated he served during the storm.

"I was open 24 hours a day — at that point in time that's what I felt was fair, I had so many extra expenses, and we made sure everybody on line got a full tank of gas," he said. "Instead of being a bad guy, I should be a good guy, we tried to do a service to this community, not a disservice."

Bruce Rosen, outside counsel for the Framingham, Mass.-based Gulf Oil LP, said the company was opposed to price gouging and claimed the Clifton station was currently selling off-brand gasoline and had not been affiliated with Gulf Oil LP for several years. A call Friday evening to John George regarding the Gulf Oil LP claims was not immediately returned.

Chiesa said he expected price gouging complaints to subside in coming days, but warned that other storm-related scams would likely be on the increase.