AUSTIN (KXAN) — It took a formal request under the Public Information Request Act to see the names of the 127 gas stations accused of jacking up gas prices during Hurricane Harvey. The state Attorney General’s Office has now released that information to KXAN.
The AG sent formal violation letters to the stores, accusing each of price gouging gas prices during the time Harvey hit the Texas coast in August. The letters allow the businesses the chance to “resolve” the allegations with the AG’s office, but the office.
While most of the stores are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, some stations are in and around Central Texas. Those stores include:
- Stassney Food Mart 5717 S IH35 Building D, Cedar Park
- Sam Bass Shell 806 Sam Bass Road, Round Rock
- Crownridge Shell 19605 IH 10 W, San Antonio
- Hackberry Food Mart 1242 S Hackberry, San Antonio
- Right Choice Food Mart 255 N WW White Road, San Antonio
All of the consumer complaints involve gas stations state investigators accused of charging $3.99 or higher for a gallon of unleaded gasoline or diesel.
KXAN asked the Attorney General’s Office for the names and addresses of the 127 businesses. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office would not release that information Monday. We filed a public information request for the name and location of the businesses accused of price gouging. The AG’s office released the list two days later.
“At the outset of Harvey, I made it clear that my office would not tolerate price gouging of vulnerable Texans by any individuals or businesses looking to profit from the hurricane,” Paxton continued.
“We’ve given 127 alleged offenders an opportunity to resolve these issues with our office or face possible legal action for violating state law. Our investigation of other businesses into price gouging remains ongoing.”
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits anyone from taking advantage of a disaster declared by the governor and selling or leasing fuel and other necessities for “excessive or exorbitant prices,” the attorney general’s office said.
Around 5,500 price gouging complaints were made during Hurricane Harvey against businesses. With many of the complaints coming with photos and receipts, the AG says numerous businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were accused of violations.
When KXAN went to a gas station that raised its prices during the Harvey aftermath to $3.49 a gallon, the store manager said they increased the price to “detour [customers] and stop them from coming.”
If the Attorney General’s Office cannot resolve the cases with mediation, the office can sue store owners and seek fines of up to $20,000 for each instance and up to $250,000 if the victim is 65 years old and older.
Texans who believe they have been scammed or price gouged should call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at (800) 621-0508, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or file a complaint online.