RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Lines are long, people are tense and prices are high after a ransomware attack led to the shut down of the Colonial Pipeline, which provides 45% of the gas for the east coast. Some businesses may try and take advantage of people’s desperation to fill their tanks by price gouging.
Price gouging is when a supplier greatly increases the price of essential goods during a time of emergency.
Drivers may find that some gas stations are raising prices well above the already higher than normal prices. GasBuddy reported an average of about $2.83 per gallon in the Richmond region on Tuesday.
But some stations are charging much more, like the BP on Williamsburg Road near Parker street charging $6.99. “Ridiculous. I’ll go somewhere else to get gas or stay home,” said Erica Saunders who pulled up to get gas before seeing the price.
The station was not advertising the price on its large sign outside but the price was displayed at the pump.
“I pulled in, I start pumping my gas and then I realized I put $80 worth in my truck,” another driver told 8News. “The lady next to me said she put $100 in her car. She just started crying because she said her car don’t take that much.”
WRIC spoke to an employee inside who said the owners told them they were out of gas. But outside people were still able to fill up at the pump. Employees explained they didn’t know what was going on.
“I just work here, I don’t know,” one worker said.
When asked about possible price gouging in the state, Attorney General Mark Herring said “bad actors” could take advantage of the short supply in order to make a higher profit.
“It just breaks my heart because we’re all trying to get through difficult situations together,” Herring told WRIC.
Under the current State of Emergency declared Tuesday by Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia’s price gouging laws have gone into effect.
“We will investigate it and if there’s price gouging going on, we won’t hesitate to make sure our laws are enforced,” the Attorney General said.
Herring urged anyone who believes they may have been a victim of price gouging to report it to his office’s Consumer Protection Section or the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.