Drivers express concern about price gouging

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Some Middle Tennesseans have expressed concern about alleged price gouging at gas pumps amidst the gasoline shortage plaguing southeastern states.

Viewers emailed pictures to News 2 showing gas stations advertising as much as $3.99 per gallon for regular unleaded gas, which is well over the average gas prices in the area.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported that the average price of gas in Nashville rose from $2.19 per gallon on Saturday to $2.25 on Sunday. The state average rose from $2.06 to $2.10 per gallon overnight.

With Gov. Bill Haslam’s emergency declaration on Friday, the state’s price gouging law is in effect.

“Price gouging laws make it unlawful for individuals or businesses to charge unreasonable prices for essential goods, like gasoline, during a declared state of emergency,” explained Claire Marsalis, Assistant Director of Communications for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Price gouging complaints should be registered online with the Division of Consumer Affairs. Click here to register a complaint.

“We evaluate each complaint case by case, individually, so we’ll be looking at each one to determine if there’s a proper relationship with the increase in cost to the retailer and the increase in cost to the consumer,” said Marsalis.

Paul Sargent, who bought gas on Sunday in Donelson for $2.29 per gallon, said, “If we start to get to the three and four dollar range, then something seems a little off. You’d think there’d be some back-up systems to distribute fuel to people when these types of things happen, where it wouldn’t increase [prices] that much.”

Marsalis said consumers can register price gouging complaints with the state, after the emergency declaration has ended, so long as the alleged gouging occurred during the state of emergency time period.

On Sunday evening, the Tennessee Fuel & Convenience Store Association (TFCA) released a statement about the recent issues with the Alabama gas pipeline.

“We are at the western edge of the Colonial pipeline territory,” said Emily LeRoy, executive director of the TFCA. “There is plenty of fuel at the oil refineries, we just need to travel farther to transport the fuel into Tennessee.”

They went on to say that “consumers should resume their typical fuel purchasing patterns, so that retailers have an opportunity to refill the pumps.”

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